Lung Association Urges Congress To Restore Funding to Fight TB
U.S. TB Cases Reach All-Time Low in 2005 But Budget Cuts Could Trigger New TB Resurgence
New York, NY, March 24, 2006 – The American Lung Association today called on Congress to reject Administration plans to cut more than $1 million from funding to fight tuberculosis, warning that without stable support for state and local TB control programs, recent declines in the disease may not be maintained.
“Funding for TB control is like keeping the New Orleans levees in good repair to prevent flooding. When we let our guard down, the disease predictably moves in and quickly,” said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that TB cases in the United States reached an all-time low in 2005, but progress toward eliminating the disease is slowing. In 2005, there were 14,093 new TB cases reported, down from the 14,517 cases reported in 2004. The national TB case rate – 4.8 cases for 100,000 in 2005 – was the lowest since reporting began in 1953. But the decline of 3.8 percent in the U.S. TB cases from 2004 to 2005 was one of the smallest declines seen in more than a decade.
“While progress toward eliminating tuberculosis in the United States is slowing down, federal spending to fight the disease also is decreasing,” said Edelman.
The federal budget for fiscal year 2006 includes $137.7 million for TB programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – a 23 percent decline in the past decade when adjusted for inflation. The Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2007 cuts TB funding by $1 million. Additional assessments and rescissions may reduce the 2007 budget by another 2 to 5 percent, or more.
“Cutting funding by another $1 million or more begins a trend toward disaster,” said Edelman.
To reverse this trend, the American Lung Association is urging Congress to increase the CDC’s TB budget by $115 million, raising it to $252.4 million for fiscal year 2007.
“Now is not the time to cut spending for TB programs. There is a huge reservoir of tuberculosis throughout the world, including the United States where an estimated 9 million to 14 million people carry latent tuberculosis. Tuberculosis also is becoming increasingly resistant to standard TB drugs, resulting in multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that is about as lethal, albeit much more slowly, as SARS and avian flu,” said Edelman.
The CDC reports that the number of people in the United States who have tuberculosis that is resistant to at least two first-line TB drug therapies rose by 13.3 percent from 2003 to 2004, the most recent for which those numbers are available.
“Inadequate funding triggered a dramatic rise in tuberculosis in the United States in the late 1980s. It was only when money to combat the disease was beefed up that the current downward trend began. We could face another upsurge in the disease – especially the hard-to-treat, multi-drug resistant variety – if TB control programs are not properly funded,” said Edelman.
March 24 marks World TB Day, sponsored by the World Health Organization to increase public awareness about the continuing global threat posed by tuberculosis. The disease infects one-third of the world’s population and kills more than two million people each year.
The American Lung Association’s recently updated Lung Disease Data report includes information on tuberculosis and other lung diseases at www.lungusa.org or call 1-800-LUNG-USA.
* Lung Disease Data: 2006 Download the latest report on some of the most common lung diseases
* TAKE ACTION: Increase Tuberculosis Funding
About the American Lung Association
Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to www.lungusa.org.
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