South Africa is battling to reduce its cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) with the success rate for those on treatment at about 40 percent.
CAPE TOWN, Mar 12 2014 (IPS) – Despite an increase in diagnosis times, South Africa is facing a growing drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) burden as nationally there remains a large gap between the number of patients diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and those who start treatment.
Between 2007 and 2012, recorded cases of MDR-TB, which is resistant to at least two of the primary drugs used to combat standard TB, almost doubled.
South Africa has improved its ability to test for drug-resistant TB by introducing GeneXpert, a rapid testing machine that can diagnose TB in sputum samples in less than two hours.
But in 2012, just 42 percent of patients diagnosed with MDR-TB began treatment, according to government figures. The success rate for those on treatment is about 40 percent.
“If we don’t do something about it now, MDR-TB is going to become XDR-TB [extensively drug-resistant TB],” Dr. Jennifer Hughes, a drug-resistant TB doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), told IPS. XDR-TB is a strain of TB resistant to at least four of the main TB drugs.
“If we don’t start focusing on how we treat XDR-TB properly as well, we’re just going to drive further and further resistance as we go.”
Read the full article at IPS.