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White House releases plan to combat multidrug-resistant TB

The plan includes increased investment into research and development for treatment.

By Stephen Feller
Tuberculosis is a lung disease spread through the air from person to person. While there are less than 100 reported cases of multi-drug resistant TB in the United States, cases are increasing other places and the disease is leading global cause of death overall. Photo by Tatiana Shepeleva/Shutterstock
Tuberculosis is a lung disease spread through the air from person to person. While there are less than 100 reported cases of multi-drug resistant TB in the United States, cases are increasing other places and the disease is leading global cause of death overall. Photo by Tatiana Shepeleva/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- The Obama administration announced a plan to help combat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the United States and around the world, which it calls an advancement of previous plans to work with the World Health Organization to reduce overall cases and deaths caused by TB.

While about 100 cases of MDR-TB are found in the United States each year, it affects nearly half a million people around the world annually. More than 9.5 million people develop active tuberculosis infections every year, according to the WHO, which recently reported TB passed AIDS as the leading global cause of death.

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"The National Action Plan is an effort to articulate a comprehensive strategy, and to mobilize political will and additional financial and in-kind commitments from bilateral and multilateral donor partners, private-sector partners, and governments of all affected countries," according to a White House press release.

Obama's National Action Plan is built on three goals: strengthening domestic capacity to combat MDR-TB; improving work with other countries to better combat MDR-TB; and accelerating research publicly and privately in the United States to better fight MDR-TB.

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Just under 10,000 cases of tuberculosis were reported in the United States in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which represented a decrease from 2013, but was the smallest year-to-year decrease in a decade. Overall, TB has been declining in the United States for 20 years, and fell below 10,000 for the first time in 2012.

The 3- to 5-year plan is in line with the WHO's global strategy to reduce tuberculosis around the world, and comes weeks after the global organization announced the most recent statistics on the infectious lung disease.

"The [WHO] report shows that TB control has had a tremendous impact in terms of lives saved and patients cured," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said at the time. "These advances are heartening, but if the world is to end this epidemic, it needs to scale up services and, critically, invest in research."

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