Inadequate laboratory facilities in Asia and the Pacific are fueling
the spread of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, the World Health
Organization said. The WHO said Cambodia and the Philippines each have
only three laboratories able to diagnose multi-drug resistant TB.
“Countries need to do more than upgrade laboratories,” said Pieter Van
Maaren, WHO regional adviser for tuberculosis and leprosy. Undetected
and untreated, a TB patient can infect 10 to 15 people a year “simply
by coughing or sneezing,” the WHO said. It added that the spread of
multi-drug resistant TB is every TB program’s nightmare because one
case can take up to two years to treat with drugs that have serious
side effects and cost 100 times more than the regular regimen of drugs.