AOL News Reports On Challenges Of Global Spread Of Drug-Resistant TB

AOL News examines health officials’ concerns about the world-wide spread of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, focusing on the U.S. and Mexico.

“Here’s one scenario that keeps health officials on edge: A Mexican contracts the disease … and then comes to the United States seeking work. … he passes it to several other migrants. But instead of promptly seeking medical assistance, the workers shun health care out of fear that they won’t be treated or risk being deported. As a result, the disease festers and spreads,” AOL News writes. Eugene McCray, head of the CDC’s international tuberculosis elimination program, calls legal barriers to health care “abysmal, because people are in the community and they are going to transmit disease and it is going to affect Americans. It is very short-sighted.” He recommends focusing on efforts to help strengthen Mexico’s health system rather than bolstering border controls.

“The presence of the drug-resistant forms of [TB], in particular, is a sign that a health system is functioning badly,” the publication writes. To prevent drug resistance, health workers need to keep tabs on TB patients undergoing lengthy treatment regimens. “But such labor-intensive treatment can be difficult in developing countries with limited resources.”

According to the publication, “Mexico isn’t the chief concern. Nearly two-thirds of all new multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases are concentrated in Russia, China and India, according to an estimate by Dr. Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School.”

“The problem with TB is that it is characterized as usually affecting indigenous, poor people, so we continue to marginalize it, and therefore its victims do not have a voice. That is the big problem,” said Alied Bencomo, the new chief TB official in Mexico’s Chiapas state. “Anyone can get it, like me, not just the poor. That is the message we need to get out there” (Loewenberg, 7/8).

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