This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index
BBC Learning English Launch BBC Media Player
  • Help
  • Text only
You are in:Learning English > News English > Words in the News
Learning English - Words in the News
29 November, 2004 - Published 13:51 GMT
Latvia TB centre
tb bacterium
TB can develop resistance to drugs

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:

Listen to the story

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

Listen to the words

a global pandemic
a disease which is widespread across the world

not the case

unchanged, unharmed by


causing death

become infected by

carry out
lead, conduct

susceptible to
easily affected by

mortality rates
frequency of deaths

sky rocket
become much higher

Other Stories