The White House has released the National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis, a crucial step in addressing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a growing public health threat that reflects missed opportunities to find, cure, and prevent TB at the earliest stages of infection. Despite being preventable and curable, TB ranks alongside HIV as the top cause of death from infectious disease globally. In 2014, nearly 10 million people became ill with TB, resulting in 1.5 million deaths. The primary goals of the National Action Plan are to: 1) Strengthen domestic capacity to combat MDR-TB; 2) Improve international capacity and collaboration to combat MDR-TB; and 3) Accelerate basic and applied research and development to combat MDR-TB.
Local health departments play an important part in this work as they hold the primary responsibility for prevention and control of TB in their jurisdictions. However, since 2008, local health departments have experienced extreme budget cutbacks that have led to the elimination of 51,700 jobs. These budget cuts and job losses have greatly impacted their ability to investigate and control TB.
CDC was a key architect of the National Action Plan and plays a critical role in implementing the goals in partnership with a number of stakeholders, including local health departments. With these staffing constraints in mind, the National Action Plan calls for the CDC to build local surge capacity to address TB in areas that do not have the infrastructure. The action plan also calls for the CDC and local health departments to strengthen relationships with clinicians, institutions, and community leaders to ensure rapid detection and complete treatment of drug-resistant TB among vulnerable populations and medically underserved groups. View the National Action Plan