President Obama Issues Historic U.S. Commitment to Combat Multidrug-Resistant TB
Ambitious funding now needed to operationalize the new plan
Washington, DC, December 22, 2015 — The White House released a new plan to stop drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in the United States and around the world today. The National Action Plan to Combat Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) commits the United States to massively scale up treatment for drug-resistant TB, improve capacity to respond to the epidemic, and accelerate research and development.
“Today’s new plan is an historic commitment in the fight against TB, and drug-resistant TB in particular. The Obama Administration has been a leader on global health, and I’m pleased to see a new level of ambition on TB,” said Dr. Joanne Carter, Executive Director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund.
“The Administration should seize the opportunity of this new plan by committing the funding needed to operationalize it,” said Carter. “As negotiations are underway for the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, this plan must pave the way for an ambitious funding request.”
An estimated 480,000 people develop MDR-TB every year and only about 10 percent are cured. Drug-resistant TB is difficult to treat, with only about half of the patients surviving, on average. Patients are often left with permanent lung damage, and they endure short- and long-term effects from treatment, including painful injections, nausea, and permanent hearing loss.
Since a public consultation on the plan earlier this year, advocates, members of Congress, and public health experts have noted the need for both ambitious targets and the necessary financial resources to meet those targets. For the last four years, the President’s budget request has proposed funding cuts for global tuberculosis programs. Each year, Congress has rejected those cuts, including last week in the omnibus spending bill, maintaining funding at $236 million for Fiscal Year 2016.
The MDR-TB plan proposes a rapid acceleration in treatment. By 2018 the plan aims to deliver appropriate treatment in 25 percent of patients with MDR-TB in 10 countries with the highest burdens of MDR-TB. By 2020 appropriate treatment will reach 50 percent of patients with MDR-TB in these 10 countries.
In total, the plan means an additional 200,000 MDR-TB patients (almost 60 percent more than the current target) receiving treatment, compared with the current estimated number (360,000 MDR-TB patients) under the existing U.S. Global TB Strategy 2015–2019.
The plan also includes critical steps to better respond to drug-resistant TB in the United States, reducing the number of drug-resistant cases in the U.S.15 percent by 2020 and addressing domestic drug shortages. Accelerating basic and applied research and development for TB is also a critical part of the plan.
The U.S. government plan will complement the Global Plan to End TB 2016-2020, released earlier this month and endorsed by leaders around the world. Both plans come on the heels of new data from the WHO showing that tuberculosis is now the world’s leading infectious killer, surpassing HIV/AIDS.
“As the new data from the WHO makes clear, we have no time to waste,” said Carter. “The new MDR-TB plan is a critical step in scaling up ambition to tackle MDR-TB. If it proposes the funding to make this plan a reality, the Obama Administration can leave a lasting legacy in the fight against this devastating epidemic.”
About RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund:
RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund are sister organizations that, together, are a leading force in ending poverty in the United States and around the world. We create long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes — lack of access to health, education, or opportunity to move up the economic ladder. We empower ordinary people to become extraordinary voices for the end of poverty in their communities, the media, and the halls of government. The collective voices of these passionate grassroots activists leverage millions of dollars for programs and improved policies that give low-income people the tools they need to move out of poverty.