Editorials and Commentary
Canada: Tuberculosis Is in Control, Not Us
October 30, 2002
"If anyone thinks tuberculosis is not a problem, that it has been eradicated or that TB is a problem for poor countries, think again. A recent outbreak near Montreal in September should remind us that the disease, not us, is in control.Adapted from:
"Deaths resulting from TB are higher this year than any other since anti-TB drugs were first developed more than 40 years ago. This year alone, 2 million people will die worldwide from this very preventable disease. ...What we have here is the potential for an imminently controllable and treatable disease to run rampant across the planet.
"...A study published this year in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found that our pre-immigration screening process catches only 10 to 14 percent of those individuals who subsequently develop tuberculosis. This same report concluded the only way we can get rid of TB in Canada is if we work to eradicate TB globally.
"The good news is that there are safe, economical and effective treatments for TB. ...The bad news, however, is the emergence of multi-drug-resistant TB, which resists the two most important anti-TB drugs. This frightening variant is caused by inconsistent or partial treatment. ...The cures for such cases are as much as 100 times more expensive....
"...Another huge problem is that HIV and TB aggressively enhance each other's progress. TB is the leading cause of death among HIV positive patients.
"...Sadly, although cost effective and efficient strategies to control tuberculosis already exist, treatment reaches only one in five patients.
"...If we are going to have any chance to defeat tuberculosis, Anne McLellan, [Canada's] minister of health, will have to realize that, with tuberculosis, there are truly no borders. It is essential that she follow the lead of the United States by putting funds from the domestic as well as the international budget towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
"Deaths from tuberculosis, both globally and within Canada, are on the rise. We have the technology to diagnose, the drugs to treat and the financial capability to combat this deadly disease. All we need is the political will to follow through."
Dickson is a Calgary physician and a member of Results Canada, which advocates for the elimination of hunger and the worst aspects of poverty. Soucy, the national coordinator of Results, has worked on development issues in Canada and Vietnam.
10.28.02; Dr. Bob Dickson; Dr. Alexander Soucy
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.