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Thursday, April 29, 2010

World : To Be or not TB

From the Harvard Crimson, an excellent take on TB, it's future and how it's affecting us right now:

" Tuberculosis: The very name of the disease evokes images of antiquity, a footnote in dusty encyclopedias of human sickness overshadowed by the abbreviated diseases of the present—SARS, HIV/AIDS, H1N1. Few students would be able to guess that one third of the world’s population is infected with TB or that more than 12,000 cases were reported in the U.S. in 2008. Transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or spitting, TB thrives in the humid and closely-packed quarters of slums and urban outskirts.

However, just last week, a Harvard student was diagnosed with TB, with roughly 40 identified as at risk for exposure as a result of this case, reminding us of its startling proximity to our privileged community. Instead of dismissing it as a disease of the developing world, we should take this opportunity to recognize TB’s continued relevance on the public health advocacy agenda and engage with the actors that have long stalled progress.

After a long period of decline, TB incidence has risen dramatically since the 1980s, despite the improvement of sanitary conditions, the development of anti-TB drugs in the 1950s, and the introduction of the World Health Organization’s directly-observed treatment short-course program for more effective treatment. In 1993, the WHO declared TB a global-health emergency, setting ambitious goals which it later conceded could not be met by 2003 or possibly even 2015. That is to say, the consequences from the years of inadequate treatment and low attention to disease control in resource-poor regions have become increasingly clear."

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