Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Olivia Cvitanic: Stop TB program

In a report by the WHO, the statistics of prevalence, incidence, and mortality rates in different regions of the world are put forth as are the types of treatment and the specifics of the "Stop TB Plan." The WHO has, what seemed to me, very ambitious plans for decreasing the spread of and deaths due to TB. For example, the WHO's goal was to halve the prevalence and mortality rates as compared with those of 1990. It seems that they have their work cut of for them though: in 2008 alone it was estimated that there were 8.9-9.9 million incident cases of TB reported and 9.6-13.3 million prevalence cases. Basically, a lot of people were getting infected from TB and many, especially HIV positive people in Africa, were sickening and dying. Roughly 1.5 million people died of TB in 2008 and an additional half a million HIV positive people infected with TB died. However the WHO has seen some definite success. In 2007, 87% of TB cases were successfully treated which exceeded their goal of 85%. The predominant types of treatment are cotrimoxazole therapy and antiretroviral therapy, which, according to the 87% success rate, are working. That being said, approximately 30,000 cases of multidrug-resistant TB, abbreviated MDR-TB, were reported in 2008 and the spread of drug resistant strain(s) of TB could mean disaster.
If the MDR-TB strains are kept at bay, the world is on track to reach the goals to stop the spread of and treat TB by 2015. The only region where this most likely will not be the case is the Africa where treatment is hard to come by and many people's immune system's are weakened by HIV or AIDS. While I hope that the Stop TB program does in fact succeed, I am skeptical for two reasons: the probability that drug-resistant strains of TB will spread is quite possible and that the world's cities, especially in developing countries, are getting more and more crowded without infrastructure including information and treatment availability for diseases, TB included. These conditions seem a perfect storm for a higher incidence of TB cases in the future. If you would like to read more or see more statistics, here's the link:

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