Drug-resistant TB soaring in Pakistan

Recent research has shown that rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis are soaring in disaster-torn Pakistan.

Experts believe that the recent extensive flooding will hamper efforts to control the spread of the disease, which was already deteriorating before the emergency, according to

The study, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, was conducted before this July, when the flooding hit the hardest. It shows that the proportion of TB cases that are resistant to second-line treatments, known as extensively resistant, rose from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent in 2009.

The study’s authors are calling for emergency control efforts to be enacted in order to avoid an exponential growth in drug-resistant TB rates. With flooding that affecting 20 million people, any measures to stop the spread of TB have been delayed, reports.

According to Ron Waldman, who works for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Islamabad, the disruption of healthcare facilities will fuel the spread of all forms of TB. Those being treated will be cut off from drug supplies and the diagnosis of cases will be delayed.

“It will be a struggle to get [TB control] back to what it was before,” Waldman told

Many of the people living in refugee camps following the flooding are in conditions where hygiene is poor and infection control measures are already lacking.

Ramina Hasan, one of the authors of the study, believes transmission rates in the camps will be high. She told that people living in the camps are highly stressed, poorly nourished and suffering from other infectious diseases.

“The National and Provincial TB Control Programs, together with their partners, are striving to provide treatment to patients in as many internally displaced people’s camps and flood affected areas as possible,” Hasan said, reports.