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Drug-resistant Tuberculosis a growing global threat

February 4, 2014 | Washington D.C. (USA)

In the spring of 2013, a Nepalese man was detained at the U.S.-Mexican border for his dangerous tuberculosis infection, highlighting an issue of growing concern among health experts: drug-resistant tuberculosis. The man had traveled through 13 countries before arriving in the United States with a case of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) develops when the course of treatment with standard anti-TB drugs is interrupted, causing the infection to develop resistance to the treatment, and necessitating the use of a more expensive and lengthy course of treatment with second-line drugs. XDR-TB develops when second-line anti-TB drugs are similarly misused, leaving healthcare workers with few remaining options to treat an infected patient. In developing countries, high costs of medicine and unreliable access to healthcare facilities heighten the risk of MDR- and XDR-TB developing and spreading. Including the MDR and XDR forms of the disease, tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people around the world each year.

Fondation Mérieux contributes to the fight against drug-resistant tuberculosis in China, Tajikistan, Haiti, Western Africa, Laos and Ethiopia by increasing access to diagnostics. Currently, only 60 percent of TB cases worldwide are identified. Fondation Mérieux’s impact is especially notable in China, where we have developed local and national partnerships to increase diagnostic capabilities for patients whose treatment is not proving effective. Fondation Mérieux’s involvement in global efforts to properly diagnose tuberculosis helps to prevent the spread of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis through proper treatment.

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