Myanmar must act fast to curb drug resistant TB: experts

Health officials called Thursday for urgent action to tackle "alarming" rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Myanmar where nearly 9,000 people catch the strain of the infectious disease each year.

Treatment programmes in the impoverished nation -- where the healthcare system was left woefully underfunded during decades of military rule -- are expensive and ineffective leaving the deadly illness to spread unchecked, experts warned at a Yangon forum on the issue.

"Forms of TB that cannot be treated with standard drugs are presenting at an alarming rate in the country, with an estimated 8,900 people newly infected each year," Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement.

The drug-resistant strain can still be treated, but analysis has shown that patients often have to take up to 20 pills a day and endure months of painful injections -- although even up to two years of medication is not guaranteed to work.

"Yet only a fraction -- 800 by the end of 2012 -- receive treatment. Untreated, the airborne and infectious disease is fatal," it said, adding care for the drug-resistant strain must "scale up country-wide to save lives and stem the unchecked crises".

Myanmar, which is undergoing sweeping political and economic reforms, will publish results of a nationwide TB survey by the end of the year, a health ministry official said, adding currently there is enough medicine for just 500 patients with the drug-resistant strain.

They have been identified in just 38 townships across the vast country and there is so far no accurate measure of the disease's spread.

Resistance to TB drugs develops when treatment fails to kill the bacteria that causes it -- either because the patient fails to follow their prescribed dosages or the drug does not work.

"The gap is enormous," said Thandar Lwin who manages the country's TB programme for the Ministry of Health.

"We need laboratory facilities, human resources and funding," she said, adding treatment is made more complex because up to 10 percent of people with the illness also suffer from HIV.

TB was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 20 years ago, but remains a leading cause of death by an infectious disease.

On its website, the UN agency says at least $1.6 billion is needed annually to prevent the spread of the disease.

Estimates for 2011 put the prevalence of TB in Myanmar at 506 sufferers per 100,000 of the population, compared to a regional average of 271 and a global figure of 170.

Over 95 percent of TB deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Global health experts warned in March of the looming risk of an entirely untreatable strain of TB emerging.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Online viewers won't miss Super Bowl ads shown on TV
    Online viewers won't miss Super Bowl ads shown on TV

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Next year, you won't have to worry about missing the buzziest commercials of the Super Bowl if you can't get to a TV. …

  • As festivals overload, Fest300 seeks to curate experiences
    As festivals overload, Fest300 seeks to curate experiences

    NEW YORK (AP) — The myriad of festivals seems to have gotten more dizzying over the last decade: Whether it's a weekend of music performances, a foodie meet-up or a health-and-wellness gathering, there seems to be a "fest" happening somewhere around the globe at any moment. …

  • Here's what Betty White thinks of Cecil the lion's killing
    Here's what Betty White thinks of Cecil the lion's killing

    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Betty White, a passionate animal activist, has harsh words for the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion while on a hunting trip in Zimbabwe this month. …

  • One Direction Drops New Song
    One Direction Drops New Song

    Just two days after Zayn Malik announced his upcoming album of "real music," the remaining guys from One Direction dropped a new single. So, what do you guys think of #DragMeDown?A photo posted by One Direction (@onedirection) on Jul 31, 2015 at 2:42am PDT …

  • Marvel at madness: Things to know about Boston's Comic Con
    Marvel at madness: Things to know about Boston's Comic Con

    BOSTON (AP) — Get out your favorite Sailor Moon costume and grab a bottle of water. The Boston Comic Con is this weekend, and it's forecast to be a hot one. From Friday through Sunday, comic and costume fans will gather at the Seaport World Trade Center for a line-up of contests, panels and celebrity appearances. …

  • One Direction release surprise first single as a foursome
    One Direction release surprise first single as a foursome

    Best-selling boy band One Direction released a surprise first single as a foursome on Friday, two days after former member Zayn Malik announced a new record deal as solo artist. The foursome -- Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson -- posted a video message on Twitter announcing the new single. In a separate post on his Twitter feed, Payne called the move "a bit of a surprise". …

  • 'Thelma Lou' transforms from 'Mayberry' local to legend
    'Thelma Lou' transforms from 'Mayberry' local to legend

    MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (AP) — When actress Betty Lynn first moved to Andy Griffith's quaint hometown and inspiration for the eponymous show, she couldn't go to the grocery store without meeting enthusiastic fans, calling out to "Thelma Lou." …

  • 'Spot the fake!' Mirren meets herself in triplicate wax works
    'Spot the fake!' Mirren meets herself in triplicate wax works

    LONDON (Reuters) - "Spot the fake!" British actress Helen Mirren joked as she posed with not one but three wax figures of herself, including as her Academy Award winning "The Queen" role. London's Madame Tussauds wax museum has put up a display of the figures to commemorate the actress' 70th birthday. Mirren is portrayed in two of her award-winning roles, as detective Jane Tennison in the television series "Prime Suspect" and as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen" sitting at her desk. …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …