Hanif is 25 years old, lives in Mumbai, and is one of only a handful of extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) patients in India lucky enough to be able to have acesss to the new drugs. After having failed treatment for the fourth time, Hanif was referred to the clinic of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organisation who since 2006 provides free diagnosis, treatment and support to patients with drug-resistant TB in Mumbai. Photograph by Atul Loke
Issue brief |

Four years and counting

Photograph by Atul Loke

Slow scale-up of newer MDR-TB drugs covers less than 5% in need. An estimated 600,000 people fell ill with multidrug-resistant (MDR) forms of tuberculosis (TB) in 2016, including 110,000 with rifampicin-resistant TB (RR-TB). Only 153,000 cases of MDR-TB were diagnosed, and only 130,000 people began MDR-TB treatment. An estimated 240,000 people died from MDR/RR-TB in 2016.

Conventional MDR-TB treatments last almost 24 months and are associated with severe side effects and poor outcomes. Two newer drugs – bedaquiline and delamanid – can help increase cure rates and reduce mortality, but scale-up is lagging for several reasons. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that less than 5% of people with MDR-TB who could have benefitted from these lifesaving newer medicines were treated with them in 2016.

This issue brief examines current opportunities to optimise MDR-TB treatment and to address the persistent access challenges that put treatment out of reach for people struggling to survive this deadly disease.

May 2018 Update: At the time of publication, MSF estimated that fewer than 5% of people had access to newer medicines to treat MDR-TB. For a more recent analysis, read our latest briefing document.

Additional publications in the DR-TB Drugs Under the Microscope report series are available here.

Learn more about MSF’s work to improve access to lifesaving TB treatment.

Four years and counting