SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

"Visionary leadership" necessary to combat spread of tuberculosis

An international group of doctors and scientists said recently that global governments have become "complacent" and "neglectful" in the fight against the spread of tuberculosis, adding that "visionary leadership" is needed to tackle the disease.

The letter, which was written by University College London Professor Alimuddin Zumla and other experts and was submitted to Lancet medical journal, said that "TB is a time bomb," adding that if the disease is not addressed now, "it will be out of control," according to Digital Journal.

Tuberculosis-commonly referred to as TB-is a lethal, infectious disease in which various strains of mycobacteria attack the lungs, though the bacteria can also spread to other areas of the body. The disease is transmitted through the air when individuals infected with TB cough or sneeze.

Data from the World Health Organization revealed that nearly nine million people acquire and 1.4 million people die from TB infections every year. The letter was submitted after the WHO said funding to fight TB was inadequate, Digital Journal reports.

Many countries have been faced with increasing drug resistance, in which many commonly prescribed antibiotics have become ineffective in eliminating some strains of TB. A strain referred to as XDR tuberculosis has shown resistance to many TB drugs.

"The widespread emergence of XDR tuberculosis could lead to virtually untreatable tuberculosis," the letter said, according to Digital Journal. "With the ease of international travel and increased rates of MDR in eastern Europe, central Asia and elsewhere, the threat and range of untreatable tuberculosis is very real."