MDR-TB remains unidentified in many countries

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis remains largely hidden in many countries and threatens the overall progress made against the illness worldwide.

The Global Tuberculosis Report 2012, recently written and released by the World Health Organization, said that the response to MDR-TB remains slow and uneven.

Dr. Mario Raviglione, the director of the WHO's Stop TB Program, said that although 60,000 people are currently receiving treatment for MDR-TB in high-burden countries, the number of those infected is likely much higher. Raviglione estimates that only one out of every five cases have been identified.

The director lauded the recent development of diagnostic tools that are capable of quickly identifying drug-resistant strains of the disease because early detection generally means early treatment for the afflicted and a smaller chance that the strain will spread to others. He also said he looks forward to the addition of two new drugs capable of fighting MDR-TB that will be introduced next year.

"On the one hand, we have existing as well as new tools on the horizon that could make a significant difference and even support dreams of elimination in some settings," Raviglione recently said at a press conference held in Washington, D.C. "On the other hand, we are at risk of stagnation if additional resources are not urgently mobilized by the governments of endemic countries first, and if the international community then is not ready to fill the gap."