New online tuberculosis course for physicians to be piloted by World Medical Association

A new web-based training course for physicians to diagnose, prevent and treat multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis more effectively is to be piloted by the World Medical Association.

In collaboration with the Foundation for Professional Development of the South African Medical Association, the WMA has developed the training course which, with the help of the Norwegian Medical Association, is currently being transformed into an user-friendly online format. It will be piloted first in South Africa. More than 25 South African doctors have already enrolled in the three-month piloting phase and on the basis of their feedback the course will then be rolled out to all physicians later in the year.

A professional translation into Spanish has already been scheduled and Chinese and Russian versions are also planned after successful testing of the original English course. The World Health Organisation estimates that 62 per cent of global MDR TB cases are in China, India and Russia.

Physicians who take part in the course may receive credits as part of their continuing medical education programme.

Dr Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the WMA, said:

'We need to help physicians improve tuberculosis treatment and surveillance, the reactivation of screening and follow-up programmes and the large-scale application of strictly supervised daily treatment of TB. Controlling and treating multi-resistant forms of TB are particularly important and challenging.

'Every year almost two million people die from this disease and there are 400,000 news cases of MDR TB. If this is not properly managed, we risk facing an even more challenging public health issue. Yet multi drug resistant TB is curable and it is cost effective to treat.'

At its recent Council meeting, the WMA supported calls for adequately trained health care providers to treat TB, which affects more than nine million people every year. It noted that in developing countries the incidence of TB had risen dramatically, due mainly to its prevalence in areas with a high rate of HIV/AIDS. It also noted the great difficulties in controlling multi resistant forms of TB.

The new online course is being financed by Eli Lilly and Company as part of its MDR-TB partnership, which comprises several other organisations who are working together to improve tuberculosis control worldwide and to support the new Global Plan to Stop TB 2006-2015.

'We hope that this course will be an important new tool of great value for thousands of physicians around the world who are involved in fighting TB', said Dr Steven Paul, MD, executive vice president of science and technology at Lilly.