WHO asks India to conduct MDR-TB survey

The World Health Organization recently asked India to conduct a national survey on the spread of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

A recent WHO analysis showed that 80 countries have reported cases of MDR-TB within their borders, but only 34 countries have established a means to routinely test patients with MDR-TB for second line anti-TB drug resistance, according to

"Whereas China has been able to conduct a nationwide survey, India and the Russian Federation - the other two large countries that, with China, contribute to more than 50 percent of the estimated global burden of MDR-TB - have only produced reliable sub-national level data to date," the WHO report said, reports. "To understand the magnitude of the MDR-TB problem and address it, nationwide surveillance systems should be established in all countries, with greater urgency in the highest burden settings."

An official from the Indian health ministry agreed that India currently only possessed sub-national data, but added there were no immediate plans for a national study. The official estimated that only three percent of new TB cases are MDR, with 12 to 17 percent of retreatment cases being MDR.

"At present, only 7,000 MDR-TB patients in India are on treatment," the official said, reports. "From 2015 onwards, all suspected cases will be tested for MDR-TB. Then we will have a national data. At present, all patients aren't tested for MDR-TB. We now have 36 labs to test for MDR-TB. In the next two years, we expect the number of labs to double."