From the Guardian, writer Sarah Boseley gives us more details on the WHO report.
The report shows that one in four cases in parts of Russia are drug-resistant. The WHO estimates that 440,000 people worldwide had multi-drug-resistant forms of the disease (MDR-TB) in 2008, the last year for which there are complete figures, and that a third of them died. MDR-TB is defined as cases in which the two most commonly used and most effective drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin, do not kill the bacteria causing the disease.
More alarming is extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), which was first identified in 2006 in a small group of people with HIV in South Africa, almost all of whom died. It is resistant not only to the two basic drugs but also to the second-line antibiotics, including fluoroquinolone, amikacin, kanamycin and capreomycin.
In poor areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, where XDR-TB was first seen, aggressive chemotherapy treatment lasting two years, which can still save lives, is unavailable.
The report warns that not enough is known even about the extent of drug-resistant TB and that the cost of checking the spread of the disease will be high.
Not all countries have the surveillance systems to pick up cases of XDR-TB, but in the 40 that were able to submit data to the WHO, 5.4% of all their drug-resistant cases were XDR-TB. In eight countries, such strains accounted for 10% of all resistant cases. So far, 58 countries have confirmed at least one case of XDR-TB.
Drug resistance in general is running at an all-time high, at 3.6% of all TB cases. Almost half of all the cases are in China and India. In 2008, an estimated 150,000 people died of drug-resistant TB.