The World Health Organization (WHO) has just announced two new policy recommendations that could save lives by speeding detection and improving treatment outcomes in patients with multi-drug resistant forms of TB (MDR-TB). These recommendations include use of a shorter, less expensive treatment regimen and a novel rapid diagnostic test.
The current treatment approach takes 18-24 months to complete, and the prolonged treatment time can contribute to severe side effects. The new WHO-recommended treatment regimen will take half the time at 9-12 months. As more patients will likely complete treatment, this change in regimen is expected to improve outcomes and lower deaths. It is also about half the cost of the current treatment regimen.
The novel rapid diagnostic test produces results in 24-48 hours, a vast improvement over the 3 months or longer that is currently required. This new test will allow patients to be put on appropriate treatment from the beginning and reduce the probability for amplification of resistance and development of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).
USAID is working closely with WHO, and through the TRACK TB project, will make sure that Ugandans benefit from these advances.
Uganda is one of 22 countries with 80% of the world’s TB burden. 1 in every 100 newly diagnosed TB patients and 12 in every 100 previously diagnosed patients are estimated to have MDR-TB.