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Drug-resistant Tuberculosis continues to be a public health crisis, a World Health Report has revealed.

The Global Tuberculosis report 2018 revealed that 558,000 across the world developed TB that was resistant to rifampicin (RR-TB), the most effective first-line drug in 2017.

Out of these, 82 per cent had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

Globally, 3.5 per cent of new TB cases and 18 per cent of previously treated cases had MDR/RR-TB.

According to WHO, about 1.7 billion people or 23 per cent of the world’s population, have latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.

“The disease burden caused by TB is falling globally, in all WHO regions, and in most countries, but not fast enough to reach the first 2020 milestones of the End TB Strategy. Urgent action is required to improve the coverage and quality of diagnosis, treatment and care for people with drug-resistant TB,” the report says.

Tuberculosis is a curable and preventable disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.

TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.

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People infected with TB bacteria have a five to 15 per cent lifetime risk of falling ill with TB.

However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki is among those set to deliberate on strategies aimed at ending deaths related to tuberculosis even as new statistics show that the war against the disease is far from over.

The TB meeting organised under the theme ‘United to end tuberculosis: an urgent global response to a global epidemic’ will take place tomorrow Wednesday.

Access to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, scaling up national and international financing for service delivery, innovation and research into diagnostics, drugs, vaccines and other prevention strategies are some of the topics expected to be discussed.

Read: Union could help fight TB antibiotic resistance

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