While TB is curable with access to testing and treatment, in the Americas, 850 people become ill with the disease and about 90 die every day.
“Despite the availability of new innovations for TB, including rapid tests, and shorter oral treatments for drug-resistant strains and for TB preventive treatment, many people, particularly the most vulnerable, continue to miss out,” Dr. Ruben Mayorga Sagastume, Chief of PAHO’s HIV, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Unit said.
As part of this initiative, PAHO and WHO are urging countries to accelerate the rapid roll-out of the BPaLM/BPaL (bedaquiline, pretomanid, linezolid and moxifloxacin) medicine regimen for drug-resistant TB treatment, which has the potential to significantly increase cure rates due to its effectiveness, lower cost and improved impact on patients’ quality of life as it is an all-oral treatment that is considerably shorter than traditional regimens.
PAHO is also calling on countries to strengthen the diagnosis of drug resistant TB to ensure timely and effective treatment, by accelerating the implementation of WHO recommended rapid molecular tests.
TB is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person through the air. The symptoms of active TB include cough, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. In healthy people, infection often does not cause symptoms, because the person’s immune system acts to wall off the bacteria.
World TB Day is commemorated each year on March 24 to raise awareness of the devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic.