Nigeria: Shorter Tuberculosis therapy shows potential


According to an expert, early success with Nigeria’s deployment of the new, six-month Tuberculosis treatment regimen in four states might pave the road for its national implementation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 10 million individuals worldwide are infected with TB each year, with Nigeria and South Africa accounting for two-thirds of all tuberculosis infections.

Patients and health systems found the prior therapy, which lasted nine or 18 months, difficult to complete, prompting the WHO and partners to adopt a six-month treatment schedule last month.

Nigeria has also already been using the six-month course in four states through an operational research program that began in November 2020. 

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“So far, our findings reveal that the six-month regimen is cost-effective with mild side effects,” says Babawale Victor, assistant director of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health. “It reduces drug resistance because of the short period of the treatment, and patients prefer it to the other regimens because recovery is faster.” 

The six-month regimen either uses BPaLM (a combination of oral medicines bedaquiline, pretomanid, linezolid and moxifloxacin) or BPaL (a combination oral bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid). 

“With this new guideline, almost all patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis can be treated in six months with an all-oral regimen,” says Tereza Kasaeva, director of the WHO’s Global TB Program, announcing the new recommendation last month. “We now have more and much better treatment options for people with [drug resistant] TB thanks to research generating new evidence.” 

Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of TB Alliance, also says that the new WHO guideline allows for the treatment of almost all forms of drug-resistant tuberculosis. 

Spigelman tells SciDev.Net: “The WHO has just delivered excellent news for patients. This is a testament to what can accomplish through long-term, sustained investments in TB research and development. 

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“We now have a path forward for handling the vast majority of cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis with only six months of all-oral treatment, simplified drug regimens that have manageable side effects, and cure rates on the same order of magnitude as the treatment for drug-sensitive TB.” 

Spigelman explains that the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis could dominate a patient’s life and that only a few years ago, treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis was over three times longer than that of many early-stage cancers. 

“With a global treatment success rate of just 59 percent, it was unreliable and treating a patient for almost a year-and-a-half is a long time for them to tolerate the harsh medicines,” Spigelman adds. 

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He claims that the WHO’s new, shorter treatments will have an influence on the drug-resistant TB treatment budget and save money.

Almost every nation in Sub-Saharan Africa is anticipated to follow the new WHO recommendations for drug-resistant tuberculosis therapy, according to Spigelman.

He goes on to say that nine African nations, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and South Africa, have made plans to buy the drugs directly from manufacturers or through the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility.

Victor discusses his attempts to obtain a countrywide distribution of the new therapy with SciDev.Net.

Source: Click …..Medical

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