On Dec. 23, 2015, the White House released the National Action Plan to Combat Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is a crucial step to address MDR-TB, a growing public health threat that reflects missed opportunities to find, cure and prevent TB.
Despite being preventable and curable, TB ranks alongside HIV as the world’s leading cause of death from infectious disease. In 2014, nearly 10 million people became ill with TB, resulting in 1.5 million deaths. While the majority of MDR-TB cases are outside the U.S., TB respects no national borders – TB anywhere is TB everywhere.
MDR-TB is a strain of TB resistant to at least two of the first-line drugs used to treat TB, and is now is found in every country in the world. Even in countries with a low TB burden, like the United States, MDR-TB cases strain the public health system. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there were nearly 500,000 MDR-TB cases globally in 2014. Compared to TB that is not drug resistant, MDR-TB takes a greater human and economic toll – it requires much longer treatment times with costlier drugs, can cause serious and permanent side effects, and significantly increases the risk of death. If left unchecked, 75 million additional people could die from MDR-TB by 2050, costing the global economy $17 trillion in lost productivity.
As a key implementer of the National Action Plan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supports TB programs throughout the United States and around the world to find, treat, cur, and prevent TB. The CDC says the National Action Plan will help the U.S. stay ahead of TB drug resistance with innovations in surveillance, outbreak detection, therapy for hard-to-treat cases, and a system to help address drug shortages.