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Securing its place as an indispensable defence against the development and spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), the Stop TB Partnership announced on 29 May 2007 that its drug supply arm, the Global Drug Facility, has provided anti-TB drug treatments for 10 million people to 78 countries in the past 6 years.
This is an important milestone, because delivering anti-TB drugs to the people who need them most and making sure that patients complete their treatment is the only way to break the back of the epidemic. It is also the best weapon for preventing a potentially massive new epidemic of drug-resistant TB. Together with countries and partners, the Stop TB Partnership is moving steadily towards its target of treating 50 million TB patients between 2006 and 2015.
There were 8.8 million new cases of TB in 2005 and 1.6 million deaths from the disease. In the majority of cases, TB is drug-sensitive, meaning it can be cured with 4 standard, or first-line, drugs. Failing to complete treatment with these drugs is the first step towards development of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Use of counterfeit or poor quality drugs also can result in development of this multidrug-resistant form of the disease.
MDR-TB takes longer to treat and can only be cured with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more and more …