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Challenges Remain In Fight Against TB, U.N. Secretary-General Says

On World Tuberculosis Day, recognized on March 24, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “said that while there has been much progress since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared TB a global health emergency two decades ago, there are still challenges to be met, mainly stopping the spread of multidrug-resistant TB, also known as MDR-TB, which threatens to reverse the gains achieved in past years,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “New diagnostics, new drugs and the promise of new vaccines have the potential to further accelerate progress against TB, which still kills 1.4 million people a year — more than any infectious disease other than AIDS. But two obstacles stand in the way,” he said, noting drug-resistant TB and a need for additional funding. “WHO Director-General Margaret Chan stressed that while curing MDR-TB is feasible, it takes 20 to 24 months of treatment with expensive and toxic drugs, some of which need to be administered by injection and some of which are in short supply,” the news service adds, noting she “warned that nearly four percent of people newly ill with TB are resistant to multiple drugs right from the start” (3/24).