SWITZERLAND—The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a Rapid Communication outlining critical developments on the co-administration of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis C (HCV).

The evidence provided suggests that combined therapy for HCV and multidrug-resistant or rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (MDR/RR-TB) is not only feasible, but also has potential benefits that outweigh the hazards.

Co-administration has shown potential in increasing MDR/RR-TB treatment success rates while lowering treatment failure, loss of follow-up, and mortality.

Furthermore, adherence support for HCV medication during MDR/RR-TB treatment is acknowledged as a critical component of care.

Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme, stressed the importance of tackling simultaneous hepatitis C and drug-resistant tuberculosis illnesses, which pose significant challenges to the health and well-being of individuals and families around the world.

She emphasized the importance of having effective medicines for both diseases that may be safely provided concurrently to improve health outcomes and, ultimately, save lives.

This fast communication helps to inform national TB programmes, hepatitis programmes, policymakers, and technical organizations, with the purpose of facilitating seamless integration and improving the quality of TB services at the country level.

The next version of the WHO consolidated guidelines on tuberculosis treatment, as well as its companion Operational Handbook on Tuberculosis: Module 4: Treatment, will include these updated recommendations and provide detailed insights into the evidence evaluation that drove the analysis.

Despite the transformative impact of short-course oral direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) on HCV treatment, managing chronic HCV in MDR/RR-TB patients still poses hurdles due to different national regulations and practices.

In response, WHO has initiated a call for ‘expert evidence’ from clinical experts worldwide to address this knowledge gap effectively.

The WHO also extended its gratitude to the Guideline Development Group members, evidence reviewers, national TB programmes, WHO staff, technical and funding partners, community and civil society representatives, patients, caregivers, and clinical experts whose collective efforts have contributed to the data informing this crucial update.

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