Global bid launched to speed up tuberculosis treatment

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A new approach to tackling tuberculosis (TB) is needed if deaths from the preventable disease are to be stopped. File Photo: The Global Fund/John Rae

A new approach to tackling tuberculosis (TB) is needed if deaths from the preventable disease are to be stopped, UN health experts said Monday.

One-third of the world's population is thought to have the disease without realising it, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while long and expensive treatments mean that it is not dealt with as effectively as it should be.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

UN partner UNITAID is known for investing in new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat HIV/AIDS.

It's already helped to do the same with tuberculosis, which claims 1.5 million lives every year.

One of UNITAID's goals is to scale up use of TB diagnosis with a new test that can identify the disease in less than two hours.

The most widely used test can take up to six weeks.

That's important because around one in three people on the planet has latent TB, which has no symptoms.

Children under five and those with HIV are most likely to develop full-blown TB – and die from it.

Now, with the help of the World Health Organization, UNITAID wants to give more people access to new TB drugs in 16 countries.

It also wants to enlist the help of drug companies to develop and roll out shorter treatment programmes and use new child-friendly medicines.  

Here's Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of UNITAID:

"We decided to target latent TB because addressing this particular group of people, which is one-third of the world can be a game-changer, can change we believe it can change the trajectory of the epidemics…"  

WHO said the initiative could have a huge impact in preventing tuberculosis for millions of people, especially the youngest.

Duration: 1’19″

Filed under Today's News.
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