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WHO Concerned Over Asian Nation's Failure to Curb Tuberculosis Threat

by VR Sreeraman on July 21, 2008 at 1:26 PM
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 WHO Concerned Over Asian Nation's Failure to Curb Tuberculosis Threat

The failure of Asian nations to fight the spread of highly lethal, drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis poses a threat to global public health security, the World Health Organisation warned Monday.

Each untreated patient could infect five to 10 people a year, and an uncontrolled local epidemic could spread across national borders, it said.

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"Only one percent of the estimated 150,000 people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)... in East Asia and the Pacific are getting appropriate treatment," the WHO said in a statement.

"We are more vulnerable than ever to the MDR-TB threat," it said. "Countries must act responsively to safeguard global health."

"MDR-TB raises the risk of a TB epidemic that would be costly and complex to control" as drugs to treat it "are about 100 times more costly than the regimen for normal TB," the UN agency said.
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Despite the discovery of a cure half a century ago, TB remains the leading infectious disease killer of adults after HIV/AIDS, according to the WHO.

MDR-TB is caused by mismanagement of standard TB treatment. Mismanagement of MDR-TB can result in extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), a form of TB resistant to all the most effective drugs and virtually uncurable, it said.

"MDR-TB is a serious problem in China and the Philippines, and of concern in Mongolia, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam," it said. "MDR-TB -- but not standard TB -- is severely neglected" in the region, it said.

"Politicians should commit to action. They need to wake up and realize what is at risk. This is a disease that you can transmit in a cough to your children," it said.

Source: AFP
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