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Drugresistant TB on the rise in Eastern Europe
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Drug-resistant TB on the rise in eastern Europe

11/08/17Health

Specialists have warned that widespread drug-resistance to tuberculosis (TB) is mounting in eastern Europe, and without intervention there is little hope the spread will slow.

Dr Daria Podlekareva from Rigshospitalet at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, told Medscape Medical News that for several years, we have been hearing that there is “a need for urgent action,” it needs to be addressed now.

However, cultural and political issues mean that it is “not always easy to adopt international guidelines or initiate research projects”, she said at the International AIDS Society 2017 Conference in Paris, France.

“It’s difficult to go into eastern Europe and initiate projects and do studies.

“Some eastern Europe countries are still behind an iron wall.”

To help curb the epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Stop TB Partnership, and the EU should collaborate to encourage governments to recognise TB as a public health emergency and to implement international programmes and standards of care, said Podlekareva.

Eastern Europe is a “perfect storm” for the spread of TB because it has high rates of incarceration, HIV infection, and injection drug use, and it has disintegrated healthcare systems, suboptimal TB diagnosis and treatment, and poor adherence rates, Podlekareva added.

In addition, nearly half of all TB cases are multidrug-resistant, which requires longer, more expensive treatment than drug-susceptible TB, and leads to more adverse effects. Treatment is also less accessible in the region.

In an international cohort study on the management of concurrent HIV and TB, Dr Podlekareva and her colleagues found that TB-related deaths were significantly more common in eastern Europe than in western Europe or Latin America.

Podlekareva said: “People are now getting infected with drug-resistant strains,” and most eastern European countries are not equipped to treat multidrug-resistant TB.

Pan European Networks Ltd