Eliminating Tuberculosis is Still a Top Health Priority

Statement by Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California

Sacramento, CA (March 24, 2010)

Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a serious public health threat in the U.S. with nearly 13,000 TB cases reported during 2008. While this is the lowest recorded number of cases since the U.S. began reporting in 1953, this highly contagious disease is far from eradicated and continues to require the attention of the public and private health care systems, public health officials and advocates across the nation.

It was only 100 years ago that tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the U.S. Through research, education and treatment, we have been able to significantly reduce the incidences of TB. However, the job is not done.

Here in California we have seen tremendous success in the efforts to mange and treat TB. In Los Angeles County alone, TB cases have declined from a high 2,100 in 1992 to just 707 in 2009. Yet, vulnerable populations remain at risk. Californians with immune deficiencies such as people who are HIV-positive, as well as those with cancer, diabetes and substance abuse problems are highly susceptible to contracting TB. Foreign-born citizens and homeless people are also considered vulnerable.

To better serve these at-risk populations, it is critical that the private medical providers who care for these people are fully informed the public health sector's role managing TB as well as how to how to report TB, diagnose and treat the infection.

On March 24, World TB Day, the American Lung Association in California is proud to be a co-sponsor of “Public Health and the Private Medical Community: Partnering Together to Control TB in Los Angeles County,” a symposium seeking to better coordinate and provide quality TB care throughout Los Angeles County among public and private health care professionals. We are sponsoring the event with Los Angeles County Department of Health and its Tuberculosis Control Program, Garfield Medical Center and the Tuberculosis Coalition of Los Angeles County.

We look forward to this event bringing us one step closer to eradicating this terrible disease.