WHO, the World Health Organization, has highlighted a sharp spike in new drug-resistant tuberculosis cases being reported across Europe and called on member nations to be watchful.
It hopes that its new plan, released on 14 September 2011, will stop thousands of new cases developing over the next few years.
According to WHO, Europe experiences approximately 81,000 new TB cases each year which don't respond to drug treatments. Infection levels peak in Eastern Europe, especially in Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Russia but, in Western Europe, it's London which is seeing more new infections occur than in other city - 3,500 every 12 months.
WHO TB Resistance Plan
WHO's TB resistance plan is two-fold and involves increasing levels both of diagnoses and of treatment access. According to experts, if implemented, it could stop 120,000 deaths between now and 2015, generating millions of pounds worth of savings in the meantime.
Tuberculosis contaminates the air and around seven per cent of those that get it will likely die. In half of these cases, the deaths occur as a result of drug resistance.
"It's not just the vulnerable populations like migrants and prisoners - all of us could be exposed", WHO representative Doctor Ogtay Gozalov explained in a statement, adding: "If member states don't take action now, there could be a dramatic situation in the future."
Rising TB Drug Resistance
Specifically, within Europe, WHO wants to address rising TB resistance by bringing about a 20 per cent drop in the multi-drug resistant TB population, a rise in new multi-drug resistant TB case diagnoses to a minimum of an 85 per cent success rate and a rise in treatment rates to a minimum of 75 per cent.
‘The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has indicated that it strongly backs the action plan and is ready to provide financial support, where the affected countries step up their own financial commitment', the organization said, in a statement.
"Although the overall numbers are small, the trend has been for an increase in the past decade", Doctor Ibrahim Abubakar from the Health Protection Agency told the BBC, adding:
"We cannot be complacent" and warning: "The larger numbers in Eastern Europe represent a failure to take action."
Image CDC/Dr. George Kubica
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