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Unless European countries change their policy on tackling tuberculosis (TB), increasing antibiotic resistance outside the continent will overwhelm the health budgets of developing countries, say Bruce Currey and colleagues.

They argue that the WHO European Ministerial Forum on TB, held today (22 October), must discard a 'Europe-only' approach that emphasises the 66,000 deaths from TB in Europe in 2005 and overlooks the 1.6 million deaths in the rest of the world.

Management of active cases — an approach increasingly questioned within the WHO — should be replaced by prevention of new cases. This requires European governments to take responsibility for actions that the authors argue increase inequality, such as exploitative resource extraction and the arms trade, which they say in turn lead to increased incidence of TB.

To improve the health of vulnerable populations the forum must also promote partnerships to eradicate global poverty and other root causes of the disease.

And decentralising control of TB eradication programmes will increase their effectiveness and help communities help themselves, the authors say.

Link to full article in The Lancet*

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