Progress in the treatment of tuberculosis


A new combination of medicines, developed since the mid-nineties by the Belgian scientist Armand Van Deun, is now introduced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the standard treatment against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Dr. Armand Van Deun, posted since 1999 at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, was unwilling to accept the common view that the disease was untreatable and together with a few dedicated colleagues he began to develop a treatment against multi-drug resistant TB.

Now, the WHO announced recommendations for the treatment developed by Van Deun that takes only 9 months and makes the patients’ survival rate rise from 50% to nearly 85%. The former standard used treatment against multi-drug resistant TB took as much as 24 months. Thus, the new treatment also facilitates health care financing in numerous low- and middle-income countries.  

According to WHO statistics, 9 million people all over the world develop tuberculosis each year and one and a half million do not survive the infection. The biggest threat in the fight against tuberculosis is the growing epidemic of a strain of the disease that is resistant against the most common medication. This would concern nearly half a million cases per year, only half of which survive.