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Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Serious Global Problem

Former Soviet Union and parts of China most at risk

FRIDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The World Health Organization reports that median resistance to any one of four anti-tuberculosis drugs in new cases is 10.2 percent across 79 countries, with the former Soviet Union and some Chinese provinces hit hardest, according to research in the Dec. 16 issue of The Lancet.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, M.D., of the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues evaluated data on resistance to four anti-tuberculosis drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol and streptomycin) gathered from 79 countries and geographic areas. The data, collected from 1999-2002, comprised the third round of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance and were combined with the first two rounds.

Median resistance to any of the four drugs in new tuberculosis cases was 10.2 percent (range 0 - 57.1). Median multidrug resistance in new cases was 1.0 percent (range 0 - 14.2). Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Chinese provinces Henan and Liaoning reported resistance higher than 6.5 percent, while the United States and Hong Kong reported significantly decreasing trends in new-case multidrug resistance.

"Multidrug resistance represents a serious challenge for tuberculosis control in countries of the former Soviet Union and in some provinces of China. Gaps in coverage of the Global Project are substantial, and baseline information is urgently required from several countries with high tuberculosis burden to develop appropriate control interventions," the authors conclude.

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