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WHO releases new guidance for treating TB

...Says 4,500 persons die daily of disease, worldwide

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidance to improve treatment of multidrug resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB)

WHO is recommending shifting to fully oral regimens to treat people with MDR-TB.

In its message to mark 2019 World TB Day, WHO said TB remained the world’s deadliest infectious killer.

“Each day, nearly 4,500 people lose their lives to TB and close to 30,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. Global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 54 million lives since the year 2000 and reduced the TB mortality rate by 42%.

“To accelerate the TB response in countries to reach targets – Heads of State came together and made strong commitments to end TB at the first-ever UN high level meeting in September 2018.”

The organization said the new treatment course it recommended is more effective and is 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 released in advance of World TB Day, added WHO.

It quoted its Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as saying “We’re 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.”

The theme of this year’s World TB Day is: It’s time to end TB,” and since 2000, 54 million lives have been saved, and TB deaths fell by one-third, added the release.  

It furthered that 10 million people still fall ill with TB each year, with too many missing out on vital care.

The WHO’s new package is designed to help countries close gaps in care ensuring no one is left behind.

Its key elements include: 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 prioritization of planning and implementation of impactful TB interventions based on analyses of patient pathways in accessing care.

Others are new WHO guidelines on infection control and preventive treatment for latent TB infection; and civil society task force to ensure effective and meaningful civil society engagement

“This is 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,” said Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director WHO’s Global TB Programme in the statement.

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