The White House recently released a National Action Plan that identifies actions the US government will take over a 3- to 5-year period to contribute to the global fight against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. 

Building on existing mandates of US government departments and agencies to advance efforts such as those identified in the WHO’s End TB Strategy and the US Government’s Global TB Strategy 2015–2019, the plan emphasizes patient outcomes and program results through innovative approaches. 

The National Action Plan is organized around several goals that aim to strengthen health care services, public health, and academic and industrial research through collaborative action including: strengthening domestic and international capacities to combat MDR-TB; and accelerating research and development to combat MDR-TB, highlighting specifically developing rapid tests and newer treatments for patients. 

The plan calls for “a sustained effort” involving industry, non-governmental organizations, and international partners. 

In a reaction statement to the plan, officials with the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) noted: “The plan rightfully acknowledges that controlling TB on a global scale is critical to protecting public health at home. We commend the plan’s specific targets that aim to increase the numbers of people receiving appropriate successful treatment for drug-resistant TB, to lessen the impact of the disease in the hardest-hit countries and the timing it establishes to achieve those targets, as well as the actions it defines to achieve goals of building international and domestic capacities and collaborations to fight the disease. While we appreciate the plan’s goal to speed research and development of tools to diagnose, treat and prevent tuberculosis, we believe successes towards these goals would be accelerated by setting specific benchmarks and describe the resources necessary to reach them. The plan does note that the actions necessary to attain all of its goals depend on the availability of resources necessary to carry them out. We stand ready to support the plan’s implementation. We urge Congress and the White House to fully fund and ensure the success of the plan.”

According to data contained with a prepared statement announcing the report, “TB has killed more than 1.5 million people each year; more than 4000 people die of TB every day.  Each year, more than 9.5 million people develop active TB and approximately 480 000 people develop MDR-TB each year.  However, fewer than 20% of individuals with MDR-TB receive the drugs they need.”

In the United States, the number of individuals who develop TB has declined annually over the past 20 years, falling below 10 000 for the first time in 2012. “This dramatic progress could, however, easily be eroded or reversed by the further development and spread of MDR-TB and XDR-TB, which is why the action plan is important,” according to the statement. 

Reference

1. The White House. National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. 2015.  Accessed: Jan. 11, 2016.