South Africa’s Department of Health on Monday became the first in the world to announce a mass roll-out of a more tolerable drug to fight multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Injectables currently used to treat TB are notorious for their harsh side effects. The drug‚ bedaquiline‚ will replace existing treatment regimens for adolescents and adults from the start of their treatment. Dr Norbert Njeka‚ a director at the health department‚ confirmed the plans. Njeka said that those provinces not yet equipped for the roll-out "will be capacitated to do so". South Africa’s decision to be the first to ramp up the use of bedaquiline arose from "mass benefits of the new drug", he said. Up until now the drug had been used in small pockets across the country‚ but the scale-up is likely to reduce the burden of the disease exponentially.

Each year‚ about half a million people contract MDR-TB across the world. South Africa carries a high burden of 19‚000 cases. Doctors Without Borders ...

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