An estimated 440,000 people worldwide fell ill with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in 2008, with around a third of them dying, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The WHO’s Multidrug and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis: 2010 Global Report on Surveillance and Response indicates that in some of the areas of the world, one of four people with TB can no longer be treated with standard drug regimens.

In 2008, a north western Russian region reported that 28% of people showed the multidrug-resistant form of the disease (MDR-TB) which is the highest level ever reported to WHO, with the previous worst case reported in Azerbaijan with 22% in 2007.

About 50% of MDR-TB cases worldwide had been estimated to occur in China and India. In Africa, estimates show 69,000 cases, the vast majority of which went undiagnosed.

According to the WHO report the actual funding available for MDR-TB control in 2010 is $280m but the funding needed in 2015 will be 16 times more than what is available in 2010.

MDR-TB is caused by bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, the most effective anti-TB drugs, according to the report.

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