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Additional Resources Needed To Stave Off TB Resurgence

The release of new data by the CDC “showing that the number of people contracting tuberculosis in the U.S. has been declining for 20 years … should be good news,” but “as a physician and adviser working to control TB for more than 40 years, I’m more concerned than ever before about our ability to protect the public from this deadly airborne disease,” Lee Reichman of the New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” He continues, “When a serious disease like TB catches the attention of the public and policymakers, more resources are directed to control it. New cases drop as those resources take effect and a measurable impact on the disease is reported. As cases come down, resources get reduced or appropriated elsewhere — and cases rise again.”

U.S. spending on TB is facing cuts “[a]s a result of the federal government’s ‘sequester,'” Reichman writes, adding, “This drop in funding has opened the door for another TB resurgence. We’re already seeing signs.” He describes TB outbreaks in Florida and Los Angeles, and says drug resistant TB strains also pose a threat. He concludes, “The only way to protect the public from a dangerous disease like tuberculosis is by providing public health workers the resources they need to sustain the fight against it. For too long Congress has withheld these resources, putting the nation at risk of another TB epidemic” (3/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.