Learning English - Words in the News
29 November, 2004 - Published 13:51 GMT
Latvia TB centre
The World Health Organisation and the Latvian government have opened the first centre to fight the spread of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Europe in Latvia's capital Riga. New drug resistant strains of TB are 100 times more expensive to treat than regular TB and can often be fatal. This report from Adam Easton:
Normal TB is a global pandemic. But curing it is cheap and effective. A six month course of drugs costs about 10 dollars.
That's not the case with new strains of TB which are increasingly resistant to the treatment currently available. Patients must take high-powered antibiotics or even extensive chemotherapy for up to two years. And if a patient doesn't get the right drugs, in most cases it's fatal.
The World Health Organisation says 300,000 people around the world contract multi-drug resistant TB every year. Many of them are in eastern Europe and central Asia. That's why the centre, which will carry out research and develop a strategy to fight the spread of the disease, is based in Latvia.
And there's another reason. The region has among the highest infection rates for HIV/Aids in the world. People who are HIV positive are more susceptible to all types of TB. That's why Dr Jack Chow, the WHO's assistant director general for HIV/Aids, says multi-drug resistant TB must be defeated. If the two diseases combine, he warns, both treatment costs and mortality rates could "sky rocket".
Adam Easton, BBC News
a global pandemic
not the case