Monday, March 23, 2009
The World Health Organization says more money and better science are urgently needed to rein in new, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis.
While TB has been around for a long time and the basic form is treatable, the WHO says the disease still kills more than 1.5 million people every year. About 9 million people are infected, most of them in Africa and Asia.
The WHO released its annual report on the disease in China today, and its TB program coordinator in that country says while new drug resistant strains are a growing threat, their spread can be prevented if more is spent on control programs. Drug-resistance develops when patients are not treated properly or interrupt their treatment after they start feeling better. That gives bacteria an opportunity to develop a defense against the medicines.
Dr. Cornelia Hennig says better medical tests and new, more effective drugs also need to be developed. She says, right now, the worst strains are virtually untreatable.