he Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is creating more treatment access for patients with drug-resista nt tuberculosis (TB) in Peru, a country with one of the highest rates of the disease in Latin America.
The project will help more than 1,400 patients with either multidrug-resistant TB or extensively drug resistant TB. ADRA is also partnering with the School of Medicine at San Marcos National University and the Peruvian Association of Persons Affected by Tuberculosis during the 27-month project, which began last month.
The growing numbers of both TB strains are threatening to erode the progress the country has made toward eradicating the disease, ADRA officials said. "These types of TB are a serious threat to the effectiveness of our control strategy," said Walter Britton, director for ADRA/Peru. "They are not only highly contagious and difficult to treat, but can also be fatal."
Both TB strains cases are often caused by inappropriate treatment, missed doses, or a failure to complete treatment. By its completion in 2011, the project is expected to establish TB treatment centers in 19 hospitals throughout Peru, and 12 health centers in the regions of Lima and Callao.
The project also will provide treatment education for patients infected with both TB and the HIV virus. ADRA also is working with the Peruvian Ministry of Health and local government to execute the initiative under a larger program geared toward meeting United Nations development goals for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. This $4.2 million initiative is being funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
TB is an infectious airborne disease that currently infects more than 2 billion people worldwide, with 98 percent of all TB-related deaths occurring in developing countries, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
The World Health Organization statistics report that one TB-infected person can infect up to 15 people a year.