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Myanmar must act fast to curb drug resistant TB, say experts

Published on Aug 22, 2013 8:02 PM

YANGON (AFP) - Health officials called Thursday for urgent action to tackle "alarming" rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis in Myanmar where nearly 9,000 people catch the strain of the infectious disease each year.

Treatment programmes in the impoverished nation - where the healthcare system was left woefully underfunded during decades of military rule - are expensive and ineffective leaving the deadly illness to spread unchecked, experts warned at a Yangon forum on the issue.

"Forms of TB that cannot be treated with standard drugs are presenting at an alarming rate in the country, with an estimated 8,900 people newly infected each year," Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement.

The drug-resistant strain can still be treated, but analysis has shown that patients often have to take up to 20 pills a day and endure months of painful injections - although even up to two years of medication is not guaranteed to work.

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