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Examining The Threat Of Multi-Drug Resistant TB In India

The Wall Street Journal reports on a rise of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) in India, writing, “India’s slow response to years of medical warnings now threatens to turn the country into an incubator for a mutant strain of tuberculosis that is proving resistant to all known treatments, raising alarms of a new global health hazard.” The newspaper continues, “Spread of the strain could return tuberculosis to the fatal plague that killed two-thirds of people afflicted, before modern treatments were developed in the 1940s, said Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the Stop TB Department of the World Health Organization.” The newspaper notes, “The WHO is now assisting India to combat the strain” (Anand, 6/19).

The Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog interviews Ashok Kumar, head of the Central TB Division of the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, “about the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis.” According to the blog, “Dr. Kumar suggested the threat is overblown, asserting, ‘It is better to suffer from TB than suffer from hypertension, diabetes or psychotic problem because TB is curable'” (Anand, 6/20). In related news, the New Yorker’s “News Desk” blog reports, “India, which each year has two million new cases of tuberculosis — the largest number in the world — has become the first country to ban the dangerously misleading [TB] blood tests that have long been the country’s cheapest and most ubiquitous diagnostic tools.” The blog notes, “Based on those tests, every year thousands of healthy people received toxic and expensive medicine they never needed; at the same time, thousands of sick people, whose test results were erroneously negative, received no treatment at all” (Specter, 6/19).

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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.