Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis elimination study underlines the need for strengthened control measures
21 October 2009 - A research paper 'Slow Elimination of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis' published today in
Science Translational Medicine suggests that national TB control
programmes can halt and reverse the spread of MDR-TB through effective control measures though the goal of TB elimination remains far in the future. The two authors (Dr Chris Dye from WHO, and Dr Brian Williams from the South African Centre of Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis) of the modelling paper, which is based on trend data for 10 groups of countries, draw four conclusions for policy makers to consider:
- At a time when there is growing concern that some antibiotics are approaching the end of their useful lives, the data show that time trends in the number of resistant TB cases are not inexorably upward.
- Although MDR-TB strains could, if allowed to spread, become the dominant form of TB, comparisons among countries indicate that current diagnostic and treatment procedures can stop self-sustained replication of MDR-TB even in those parts of the world (such as Eastern Europe) that have high and rising MDR-TB rates.
- To maintain a given rate of decline in TB incidence, control measures must become more intense through time; continual monitoring is needed to watch out for the emergence of more resistant strains of TB.
- Although the observed rates of decline, if maintained, will lead eventually to TB elimination, that goal will not be reached by the target year of 2050.