Treatment to cut TB deaths

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The Independent Online
Treatment to cut TB deaths

At least 10 million deaths from tuberculosis will be prevented over the next 10 years by the use of a new strategy known as Directly Observed Treatment Short-course (Dots), a report from the World Health Organisation said yesterday. The Dots campaign is causing the global TB epidemic to level off for the first time in decades.

The unique features of Dots is its use of "patient observers" to watch TB patients swallow each dose of medicines. This helps overcome one of the most difficult problems that has hindered TB control efforts to date: that patients tend to take enough of their medicines to feel better, but fail to finish the course of treatment, so that they remain capable of infecting others.

With Dots, trained health workers, and sometimes volunteers, such as shopkeepers, teachers and former patients, are used in the community to observe patients take a powerful combination of four medicines over eight months. Annabel Ferriman