People living with MDR-TB and their healthcare providers call for urgent action
Read the 'Test me, treat me' manifesto and see who signed it at: msfaccess.org/TBmanifesto
"We have been waiting for half a century for new drugs that are effective against tuberculosis. Must we wait another fifty years to seize this historic opportunity to improve and roll out treatment for drug-resistant TB?" said Dr Erkin Chinasylova, TB doctor for MSF in Swaziland.
"Getting better treatment is beyond urgent, but we are not seeing anything like the level of prioritisation required to make this a reality."
MSF projects are seeing unprecedented numbers of people with MDR-TB around the world, with drug resistance found not only among patients who have previously failed TB treatment but also in patients newly diagnosed with TB - a clear sign that MDR-TB is being transmitted in its own right in the communities in which we work.
Left untreated, the infectious disease is lethal, but treatment today puts people through two years of excruciating side effects, including psychosis, deafness and constant nausea, with painful daily injections for up to eight months. Barely half of people get cured.
After close to five decades of insufficient research and development into TB, two new drugs - bedaquiline and delamanid - have recently been or are about to be approved.
Research is urgently needed to determine the best way to use these new drugs so that treatment can be made shorter and more effective, and rolled out to treat the growing number of people with MDR-TB. People on MDR-TB treatment and their caregivers from around the world outline these and other demands in the Test me, treat me manifesto, and urge others to join their call for urgent action.
"It's 2013 and I'm beginning a fourth year of living with TB, when I should be in my fourth year at university," said Phumeza Tisile, a 22-year-old woman who receives treatment for extensively drug-resistant TB from MSF in Khayelitsha, South Africa, and is one of the signatories of the manifesto.
"I've swallowed around 20,000 pills and received over 200 daily painful injections since I started treatment in June 2010, and the drugs have left me deaf. I wish I could take just two tablets a day for a month or so and be cured."