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AFP Examines Rise In TB Cases In Madagascar

Agence France-Presse examines a rise in tuberculosis (TB) cases in Madagascar, writing, “Last year alone, 26,700 people contracted TB, according to the health ministry, a jump of more than 16 percent compared with 2009, when a military coup precipitated an economic crisis as donors suspended aid to one of the world’s poorest countries.” The news service notes, “Chronic malnutrition and poverty deepened, contributing to the spike in TB, experts say” and adds, “Even before the political crisis, Madagascar suffered one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world.”

“Nearly five percent of diagnosed cases are fatal,” and “[a]bout nine percent of patients stop their treatment early,” according to the news service. “The lengthy treatment” — “Madagascar follows an eight-month treatment regime that requires daily medical supervision for the first 60 days” — “is a problem for many patients in a nation where 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas, 65 percent of them more than 10 kilometers from health centers, according to the health ministry,” AFP writes, adding, “Among the few aid agencies still working in Madagascar, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria is providing free TB treatment and helping to improve both public and private hospitals” (Campeanu, 7/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.