Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is an emerging problem in many parts of the world, and levels of MDR-TB among new TB patients are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa. We reviewed the prevalence and molecular epidemiology of MDR-TB in East Africa, including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. In 16 epidemiologic surveys, the prevalence of MDR among new cases ranges from 0.4% in Tanzania to 4.4% in Uganda, and among recurrent cases ranges from 3.9% in Tanzania to 17.7% in Uganda. There is a gap of 5948 cases between the estimated number of MDR-TB cases in East Africa and the number actually diagnosed. The only confirmed risk factors for MDR-TB are prior treatment for TB and refugee status. HIV has not been reported as a risk factor, and there are no reports of statistical association between spoligotype and drug resistance pattern. Increased capacity for diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB is needed, with an emphasis on recurrent TB cases and refugees.
Keywords: East Africa; Genetic diversity; Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB); Prevalence; Risk factors.
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