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Home / Health & Science

New test and shorter treatment for complicated TB

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy JOY WANJA MURAYA | Sun,May 15 2016 00:00:00 EAT
By JOY WANJA MURAYA | Sun,May 15 2016 00:00:00 EAT

Patients with complicated tuberculosis globally have been handed a lifeline with the approval of a new rapid diagnostic test and shorter treatment time. On Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said patients with Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) can be introduced to a shorter treatment time of between nine months to one year, reducing the current treatment time by half.

The global health body has also recommended use of the Line Probe Assay test for the faster detection of the resistant tuberculosis within 24 hours from the current culture test that takes three to four months to convey results and thus delays in beginning treatment.

“The new WHO recommendations offer hope to hundreds of thousands of MDR-TB patients who can now benefit from a test that quickly identifies eligibility for treatment,” said Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme Dr Mario Raviglione.

Globally, the fight against tuberculosis has been complicated by resistance to drugs, thus patients are placed on more expensive drugs that require strict adherence.

Head of the National Tuberculosis, Leprosy and Lung Disease programme at the Ministry of Health Enos Masini welcomed WHO’s approval, saying, “Currently, patients with MDR-TB take approximately 14,000 pills within the 20 to 24 months of treatment at a cost of 1.5 million shillings and with the new recommendations, the duration will be reduced by half and thus cost less for governments and the donors.”

The new form of treatment is known as the Bangladesh regimen, where its effectiveness was first tested and since the promising results were reviewed and published, have been adopted by some West African Countries, Dr Masini added. According to Dr Masini, the approval of the treatment that will use seven types of drugs to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis will be introduced after consultative meetings with stakeholders in the health sector to phase out the older regime and phase-in new ones.

“The introduction of the tests and drugs will encourage more patients to complete their treatment cycles,” he said.

The Global Fund welcomed the announcement, adding that MDR-TB is a serious public health crisis.

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