In most cases, TB is treatable and curable. However, standard TB treatment requires up to six months of drugs that can cause nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. The duration and side effects drive some people to abandon their treatment, which can lead to drug resistance – when TB bacteria is resistant to at least one of the main TB drugs. In 2017, there were 558,000 new cases with resistance to the most effective first-line drug, of which 82% had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
Drug-resistant TB is part of the growing challenge of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs that do not respond to existing medications, resulting in fewer treatment options and increasing mortality rates for illnesses that would ordinarily be curable – including TB. Global development partners must move faster to contain this threat of antimicrobial resistance before it escalates to claim millions of lives around the world.