New WHO recommendations to accelerate progress on tuberculosis

26 March 2019

Article: 53/1203

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidance to improve treatment of multidrug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The WHO is recommending shifting to fully oral regimens to treat people with MDR-TB. This new treatment course is more effective and is less likely to provoke adverse side effects. The WHO also recommends backing up treatment with active monitoring of drug safety and providing counselling support to help patients complete their course of treatment.

The guidance forms part of a larger package of actions designed to help countries increase the pace of progress to end tuberculosis (TB), and have been released in advance of World TB Day. Since 2000, 54 million lives have been saved, and TB deaths fell by one-third.  But 10 million people still fall ill with TB each year with many missing out on vital care.

The WHO package is designed to help countries close gaps in care to try to ensure no-one is left behind. Key elements include:

  • An accountability framework to coordinate actions across sectors and to monitor and review progress.
  • A dashboard to help countries know more about their own epidemics through real-time monitoring, by moving to electronic TB surveillance systems.
  • A guide for effective prioritisation of planning and implementation of impactful TB interventions based on analyses of patient pathways in accessing care.
  • New WHO guidelines on infection control and preventive treatment for latent TB infection.
  • A civil society task force to ensure effective and meaningful civil society engagement.

The 2019 European surveillance monitoring report released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO, finds that TB has still not been eradicated in Europe and that challenges in timely detection, which result in ongoing transmission, and inadequate treatment are driving resistance which could lead to people suffering more from drug-resistant forms of the disease.

More information on TB and the new surveillance monitoring report can be viewed on the WHO website.

Source: WHO, 20 March 2019