Today marks World Tuberculosis Day, and I join others around the world in saying “I am stopping TB.”
Tuberculosis (TB) kills almost 5000 people each day, and is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV/AIDS. According to the World Health Organization, almost 40% of TB cases are not properly detected and treated. While treatment for TB exists, more and more individuals are being diagnosed with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB or extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB, which are difficult and expensive to treat.
Our government is taking steps to address the global burden of TB. The U.S. Government is the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which has detected and treated over 4 million cases of TB. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of TB for co-infected persons, and is engaged in infection control efforts to prevent new cases of TB. In addition, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has tuberculosis programs in more than 35 countries and is working to strengthen the capacity of health systems to identify, detect and control TB, particularly MDR and XDR TB.
While much has been accomplished in the fight against this disease, there is still much more to be done if we are to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the spread of TB by 2015. I strongly believe the State Department should continue and expand its commitment to reducing the global burden of TB, and I look forward to working to improve the global response to this and other leading causes of death for the world's poorest communities.