A new study provides vital evidence that a nine-month treatment regime for one of the more serious forms of tuberculosis is just as effective as the standard programme which can take up to two years.
Patients with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) have to take a cocktail of toxic drugs, whose side effects include kidney problems, psychological problems and deafness, as well as an initial course course of painful daily injections.
The standard treatment time is 20 to 24 months and the regimen is expensive and patients find it hard to stick to.
Last year the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its guidance to recommend a shorter treatment regimen but admitted that there was limited evidence of its effectiveness.
Now, the first ever randomised control trial of a TB regimen has found that the shorter nine- to 11-month course is as effective as the 20- to 24-month treatment course.