US to fight multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

Washington, Dec 23 (IANS) The White House released a plan to combat “global rise” of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The plan released on Tuesday identified actions the US government will take in the next three or five years.

It included ensuring that all patients with TB are promptly detected and treated and people in close contact with such patients are identified, monitored, and if necessary, treated, Xinhua reported.

“Although any transmission of TB is of public health importance, an outbreak sparked by an individual with undiagnosed MDR-TB or XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant TB) could have serious consequences due to the difficulty and costs associated with treating patients infected with these resistant strains,” a statement said.

The plan also included a goal of improving international capacity and collaboration to combat the disease, which will be done through “strategic investments” to broaden access to diagnosis and treatment in the most affected communities.

In addition, the White House called for accelerating research to combat MDR-TB, including developing rapid tests to diagnose TB, novel therapies and drug regimens to cure TB and MDR-TB within weeks, and new vaccines with the potential to prevent all forms of TB.

TB has caused more deaths than any other single infectious disease worldwide, killing over 1.5 million people each year, the White House said.

Each year, over 9.5 million people develop active TB and about 480,000 people develop MDR-TB. However, fewer than 20 percent of individuals with MDR-TB receive the drugs they need to combat the disease and of them, less than half are cured.

The toll of TB on the global economy is estimated to be $12 billion each year. In countries with a high-prevalence of TB, the disease is estimated to decrease gross domestic product by four to seven percent.

In the US, it costs about $17,000 to treat a patient with drug-susceptible TB, $150,000 to treat a single patient with MDR-TB, and $482,000 to treat a single patient with XDR-TB.

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