WHO Identifies Areas Where Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis "Particular Problem," Including Eastern Europe, China
March 16, 2004
Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a "particular problem" in areas of Eastern Europe and China, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance -- a joint project between the World Health Organization and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease -- the AP/Miami Herald reports. Researchers examined data from 67,657 TB patients in 77 countries and regions and found that the prevalence of TB strains resistant to two or more drugs was "exceptionally high in almost all former Soviet Union countries surveyed, including Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, and Uzbekistan," according to the AP/Herald. The report said that high prevalence of multi-drug-resistant TB also was found in China's Henan and Liaoning provinces, Ecuador and Israel. In addition, the report noted that Central Europe and Africa had the lowest median levels of MDR-TB (Barr, AP/Miami Herald, 3/15). For example, only 1.6% of TB cases in South Africa are drug resistant, Abigail Wright, a co-author of the report, said, according to the New York Times. However, that percentage translates into 6,000 cases in South Africa, which has a high overall TB prevalence. TB is "common" in very poor countries that have a high HIV/AIDS prevalence because the weakened immune systems of AIDS patients makes it easier for the TB bacteria to grow, the Times reports. However, MDR-TB is more common in moderately poor countries where patients receive "inadequate" treatment, according to the Times (McNeil, New York Times, 3/16).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.