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Sunday, 18 September 2011

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TB: Plan to tackle rise in drug-resistant cases

17 Sep BBC

A plan has been drawn up to try to tackle cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis in 53 European countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described the problem as "alarming".

Eastern Europe has the highest level of infection, while in Western Europe, London has the highest TB rate of any capital city.

The WHO estimates there are 81,000 cases of drug-resistant TB a year in Europe, although many countries are failing to diagnose it.

The plan aims to increase diagnosis and access to treatment. Experts believe it has the potential to save several billion pounds and 120,000 lives by 2015. European problem Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan are among the countries with the highest burden of illness. TB cases in the UK are concentrated in large cities.

There are 3,500 cases in London each year.

In 2009, there were 58 cases of drug-resistant TB in the UK. Resistance can arise if patients fail to complete their course of medication.

The Health Protection Agency's TB expert, Dr Ibrahim Abubakar, said: "Although the overall numbers are small, the trend has been for an increase in the past decade.

"We cannot be complacent. The cost of managing each case can stretch to several hundred thousand pounds.

"So it's significant - and while that person is infectious, other people can get TB. "The larger numbers in Eastern Europe represent a failure to take action."

 

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