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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
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White House Releases Tuberculosis Action Plan

(CN) - Drug-resistant tuberculosis is on the rise, prompting the Obama administration to publish a national action plan to combat the disease.

The White House announced the plan Tuesday, aiming to stem the increase in reported cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB.

"The National Action Plan is an effort to articulate a comprehensive strategy, mobilize political will, and spur additional financial and in-kind commitments from bilateral and multilateral donor partners, the private sector, and the governments of all affected countries," the Obama administration said.

The three-pronged action plan is designed to attack the epidemic by "emphasizing patient outcomes and program results through innovative approaches."

The first of the plan's three goals is to strengthen the United States' capacity to fight MDR-TB, which currently affects about 480,000 people per year. These patients need to be treated aggressively, according to the administration.

An outbreak sparked by an individual with undiagnosed MDR-TB or extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) "could have serious consequences due to the difficulty and costs associated with treating resistant TB," the White House stated.

The second goal of the plan is to contribute to the global capacity to fight MDR-TB by working with health-care providers and developing innovative health technologies.

The plan's third goal is to bolster research efforts to find ways to combat MDR-TB, including tests, vaccines, drug regimens and therapies.

More than 4,000 people die of tuberculosis every day, as the disease kills more than 1.5 million people each year, according to the White House.

In addition, nearly one of every three people in the world is at risk for TB because they carry the disease's causative agent, mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is transmitted through the air.

"However, fewer than 20 percent of individuals with MDR-TB receive the drugs they need to combat the disease and of them, less than half are cured," the White House's plan states.

Tuberculosis has a devastating financial impact was well, costing $12 billion each year in lost wages to many families that are often already impoverished.

The World Health Organization declared tuberculosis to be an epidemic in 1993, and "intensified efforts to detect and treat TB" have led to 45 million lives being saved in the last 15 years, according to the Obama administration.

"This dramatic progress could, however, be easily eroded or reversed," by the spread of drug-resistant strains of the disease," the plan report states.

"This initiative will require a sustained effort involving industry, non-governmental organizations and international partners," the administration said. "This National Action Plan will solidify an ongoing partnership among these entities that will ensure resources are leveraged effectively to address this global challenge to public health and prosperity."

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