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Zimbabwe Tackles Multi-Drug-Resistent Tuberculosis as TB Cases Rise

Director of the AIDS and tuberculosis Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr. Owen Mugurungi, says there has been a marked increase in the number of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis cases in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Mugurungi told VOA Studio 7 that multi-drug resistant TB cases almost doubled from 156 in 2011 to 244 cases in 2013.

He said ordinary TB cases declined from 47,000 cases in 2010 to 38,000 in 2012.

Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis occurs when a strain of TB bacteria becomes resistant to two or more "first line" antibiotic drugs prescribe to combat standard TB.

"We have been able to secure a gene expert machine which is able to detect what type of TB patients have. This has made it easier to target our treatment even in the cases of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis," said Dr. Mugurungi.

He urged those that suspect they have tuberculosis to seek diagnosis and treatment as most people shunned diagnosis leading to a high number of missed TB cases.

Dr. Mugurungi noted that early diagnosis will ensure that more TB patients are put on treatment early.

"Most fatalities are from multi-drug-resistant TB which normally takes nearly two years for comprehensive treatment while normal TB takes a shorter treatment period," he said.

Dr. Mugurungi added that the best way to avoid MDR-TB is prevention through strict adherence to prescribed treatment by health care providers.

"It’s important for those suspecting they have TB to get early treatment to avoid complications," he said.

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