Ahead of World TB Day on March 24, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is a growing concern because people still do not have access to standard diagnostic services and this leads to the disease being undetected.
But WHO is happy to see some ray of hope with its international project which is helping 27 countries make good progress in diagnosing MDR-TB.
In 2012, nearly 500,000 people suffered from MDR-TB. But barely one out of four was diagnosed which points to the fact that for over 75 per cent patients, the disease was not diagnosed. And this ultimately increased the chance of death due to wrong medication or absence of treatment.
Every year, approximately 9 million people suffer from TB, but one third of it or 3 million do not get the required treatment.
In order to cover these 3 million patients, the theme for World TB Day 2014 is 'Reach the 3 Million'.
As part of EXPAND-TB (Expanding Access to New Diagnostics for TB) project, the countries were able to increase the diagnosis of MDR-TB cases by three times. The project is providing monetary aids from various sources and helping get new diagnostic tools in both middle and low-income nations.
"Earlier and faster diagnosis of all forms of TB is vital," says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "It improves the chances of people getting the right treatment and being cured, and it helps stop spread of drug-resistant disease."
In 2012, over 30 per cent MDR-TB cases diagnosed globally were from EXPAND-TB countries. Even in India, the WHO project helped 90 per cent detections of MDR-TB cases. More advanced laboratory services are required for diagnosis of MDR-TB. And by the end of 2013, 92 laboratories were fully functional for the purpose.
High healthcare cost in several countries is another reason why TB goes undetected. According to WHO, wrong treatments of TB has led to the growth of multi-drug resilient TB. The spread of drug-resistant strains across the globe increases the death rate.