War on TB Has Backfired: Experts
WHO slow to tackle drug-resistant TB
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 23, 2012 6:02 AM CST
Samples are seen at a clinic testing for tuberculosis in the township of Khayelitsha, on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, March 24, 2011. Over 2 million people will contract a form...   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

(Newser) – For years, the World Health Organization has pushed countries to battle tuberculosis by treating those patients who could be most easily cured. The strategy has a major flaw: It's allowed drug-resistant forms of the disease to flourish, experts say. Now the WHO is reworking its strategy—but much damage has already been done, the Wall Street Journal reports. In India, for instance, one new test suggests 6.6% of untreated sufferers have drug-resistant TB, far more than the 2% to 3% both India and the WHO have long suggested.

At a Mumbai clinic, the figures are even higher: In preliminary testing, more than a quarter of patients had a form of the illness that resisted the most potent drugs. Yet not one lab in the city has the accreditation required to diagnose the toughest strains—meaning patients can't get the stronger drugs they need. The WHO is now encouraging countries to focus on treating regular TB and tougher strains at the same time. But such a comprehensive approach is more costly: Medicines that treat the former cost $9 a month in India; the monthly price tag to treat the latter is $2,000. A WHO official says the TB fight will cost developing countries $8 billion a year over each of the next three years—and they'll be short $3 billion annually.

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Showing 3 of 6 comments
Nov 25, 2012 2:43 AM CST
"War on TB has backfired"?? Wonder if the drug companies' balance sheets agree? Maybe they knew just what they were doing?
Nov 24, 2012 9:31 AM CST
obam bam did it again! fubo!
Nov 23, 2012 7:01 PM CST
This is part of the bigger problem with the medical establishment. At any point in time there's millions of different types of bugs and pathogens standing off 1mm from your body waiting for your immunity to fall by 1% before they roar in and consume you. So the doctors want to treat you for each and every bug in existence! Why not focus on the health and immunity of you first? Nah. That's treated as being part of the hokey-kokey world of "holistic medicine". It's all about the money, honey.