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Focused Approach Needed To End TB

Addressing the question of whether the international community can eliminate tuberculosis, Arundhati Maitra and Sanjib Bhakta of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of London write in an opinion piece in the AlertNet News Blog, “With an estimated 8.7 million reported cases and 1.4 million deaths due to TB in 2011, the question above poses one of the most serious challenges faced by the scientific community, health care industry, government and public organizations worldwide.” They continue, “However, this year on World TB Day whilst commemorating Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery of the germ (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) causing tuberculosis back in 1882, we can share many positive signs.”

Maitra and Bhakta provide a brief overview of technological advancements that have aided the global TB response — such as new diagnostic tools — as well as a number of existing challenges — such as detection and a lack of “the necessary infrastructure for fast and accurate point of care detection of TB.” They write, “Novel anti-tubercular drug regimen that shorten treatment period is the need of the hour,” and add, “Another approach required is in the field of vaccine development.” They conclude, “A steady fall in new incidences and mortality caused by drug-susceptible forms of TB has already been observed. A focused approach towards tackling the drug-resistant forms of the disease and its synergistic association with HIV should enable us to reduce the threat of this highly infectious disease on the well-being of mankind” (3/22).

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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.