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.

TB Brief Four years and counting

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