Recent Releases: Human-Rights and Health; WHO’s TB Report; Drug-Resistant TB
Lancet Study Finds No Association Between Human-Rights Treaties and Health Status
The ratification of primary human-rights treaties is not associated with health status changes, according to a team of Canadian researchers, who add the findings “should not be interpreted to mean that human-rights treaties have no effect on important health issues.” Published in the Lancet, the findings are based on the analysis of health data gathered from 170 countries. “We suggest the need for stringent requirements for ratification of treaties, improved accountability mechanisms to monitor compliance of states with treaty obligations, and financial assistance to support the realisation of the right to health,” the authors conclude (Palmer et al., Lancet, 6/6).
NEJM Perspective Examines WHO’s Annual TB Report
Peter Donald and Paul van Helden of the University of Stellenbosch, examine the WHO’s 13th annual tuberculosis report in a New England Journal of Medicine perspective piece and ask whether the new statistics “represent the turn of the tuberculosis tide and provide reason for cautious optimism?” They write that the emergence of drug-resistant strains of TB “could hardly have come at a worse time â€“ in the midst of the worst economic conditions in a century.” They also note the establishment of the Global Laboratory Initiative as a source of optimism and conclude, “The tuberculosis tide has turned, but maintaining the momentum will require a financial and political commitment that may be beyond the capability of many struggling communities” (Donald/van Helden, NEJM, 6/4).
Lancet Study, Comment Examine Drug-Resistant TB
A Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance study, recently published in the Lancet, found that multi-drug resistant TB “remains a threat” to TB control in provinces in China and countries of the former Soviet Union. The study also found that drug-resistant TB data are “unavailable in many countries, especially in Africa,” which highlights the “need to develop easier methods for surveillance of resistance” in TB, according to the study (Wright et al., Lancet, 5/30).
In a related comment in the Lancet, Martien Borgdorff of the University of Amsterdam and Peter Small of the Institute for Systems Biology and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examine the data from the study. They write that although “we know how to prevent the emergence” of drug-resistant TB, the “bad news is that this measure is not being done in many affected countries.” The comment includes ideas for improved surveillance. “[N]ew instruments and innovative health-care systems” are the “solution” for drug-resistant TB, but it will require “additional resources and a commitment to innovation from traditional donors, and from countries with emerging economies that are working to address their own domestic TB problems,” according to Borgdorff and Small (Borgdorff/Small, Lancet, 5/30).