DR-TB Drugs Under the Microscope

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith
Sinethemba takes her daily regimen for XDR-TB at 10am each day. She also takes two additional delamanid tablets at night. She is 16 years old, lives with her grandmother, Vuyisiwa Madubela, and four other family members in a two-bedroomed home in Zone C29, Khayelitsha, Western Cape, South Africa. Her grandmother’s determination and love, combined with receiving a six-month trial of one the newest DR-TB drugs on the market likely saved her life this year.

The MSF Access Campaign’s DR-TB Drugs Under the Microscope report series chronicles the changing landscape of available treatments for DR-TB, outlines the key barriers to accessing the most effective treatments, and makes recommendations for action that can improve TB care on a global scale.

Although TB is the number-one infectious disease killer and one of the top ten causes of mortality worldwide, the global response to TB remains off track. The TB epidemic is exacerbated by the rise of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), flagged by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global emergency in 2014 and again in 2017. An estimated 558,000 people fell ill with drug-resistant forms of TB in 2017 – but only 25% of them were started on treatment.

The 5th edition of DR-TB Drugs Under the Microscope includes updates on new WHO recommendations for MDR-TB treatment, growing evidence to support the optimal use of newer TB drugs, and improvements in the availability of paediatric formulations for children with DR-TB.

How is it possible...

...that we sent people to the moon almost 50 years ago, yet millions of people with tuberculosis are still treated with old, inadequate medicines?