‘Shift to fully oral regimen to curb TB’

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 23 March 2019

WHO states that TB is the world’s top killer infectious disease, which claims 4,500 lives daily. The heaviest burden is carried by communities facing socio-economic challenges, those working and living in high-risk settings, the poorest and marginalised.

PUNE: Globally in 2017, around 5,58,000 people developed tuberculosis (TB) that was resistant to rifampicin (RR-TB), the most effective first-line drug. And of these, 82 per cent had multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), said the World Health Organisation (WHO).

To address this on World TB Day on March 24, WHO has issued new guidelines and recommended shifting to fully oral regimen to treat people with MDR-TB.

WHO states that TB is the world’s top killer infectious disease, which claims 4,500 lives daily. The heaviest burden is carried by communities facing socio-economic challenges, those working and living in high-risk settings, the poorest and marginalised.

This new treatment course is more effective and less likely to provoke adverse side-effects. WHO recommends backing up treatment with active monitoring of drug safety and providing counselling support to help patients complete their course of treatment. 

The recommendations are part of a larger package of actions designed to help countries increase the pace of progress to end tuberculosis (TB) and were released in advance of World TB Day.

In an official statement, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said the theme of this year’s World TB Day is ‘It’s time to end TB’.

“We are highlighting the urgent need to translate commitments made at the ‘2018 UN High-Level Meeting on TB’ into actions that ensure everyone who needs TB care can get it. 

Since 2000, 54 million lives have been saved and TB deaths fell by one-third. But 10 million people still fall ill with TB each year, with too many missing out on vital care,” said Ghebreyesus.

Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director,  WHO’s Global TB Programme, said the steps are a set of pragmatic actions that countries can use to accelerate progress and act on the high-level commitments made in the first-ever ‘UN High Level Meeting on TB’ last September.

TO TREAT TB, THE KILLER DISEASE
- The WHO package is designed to help countries close gaps in care ensuring no one is left behind.
- An accountability framework to coordinate actions across sectors and to monitor and review progress.
- A dashboard to help countries know more about their own epidemics through real-time monitoring – by moving to electronic TB surveillance systems.
- A guide for effective prioritisation of planning and implementation of impactful TB interventions based on analysis of patient pathways in accessing care.
- New WHO guidelines on infection control & preventive treatment for latent TB infection.

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