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Experts Said Fight Against Tuberculosis Needs Billions in Funding

Update Date: Mar 18, 2013 08:02 PM EDT

The crisis behind drug-resistant bacteria continues to plague doctors and researchers as international organizations stated that more funding would be needed to deal with the certain drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis. With the World TB Day just a week away, health organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, stated that an extra $1.6 billion should ideally be added to the global fight against this disease. This would increase the overall funding to $4.8 billion annually.

"It is critical that we raise the funding that is urgently needed to control this disease," the head of the Global Fund, Mark Dybul said. "If we don't act now, our costs could skyrocket. It is invest now or pay forever."

 "We are treading water at a time when we desperately need to scale up our responses [to this disease]," the WHO director-general, Margaret Chan added

Tuberculosis is the world's second leading killer after AIDS and it kills 1.4 million people annually. The disease infects roughly 8.7 million people throughout the world per year and only 60 percent of the cases are believed to be reported. Although this disease mostly afflicts the continent of Africa, other countries such as Brazil, China and Russia have seen an increased percentage of tuberculosis cases. Without proper care and medication, the risk of spreading the disease threatens the global population and now, research reveals that more and more of the strains of tuberculosis appear to be resistant to a lot of the current drug treatments.

These multidrug-resistant tuberculosis strains are believed to affect four percent of new cases every year and are estimated to have already afflicted 630,00 people. These strains, known as MDR-TB often occur when patients with tuberculosis stop their medications prematurely

"Drug-resistant TB is notoriously difficult to diagnose and extremely difficult and costly to treat," Chan stated.

WHO and the global fund want to continue battling the disease despite the fact that controlling the disease has significantly improved since it first made the global health emergency list in 1993. The epidemic during that time has been on a constant decline over the years. However, the organizations believe that the decline is too slow due to the lack of success in certain areas of the world, which makes tuberculosis still a huge global threat.

Both organizations believe that extra funding will help with the identification of new strains of tuberculosis and new treatment for these strains. 

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