WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on World Tuberculosis Day:
“In the last generation, we've made tremendous strides in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Yet this curable disease remains the world’s number-one infectious killer. In 2014, one and a half million people—including 140,000 children—died from TB. Nearly 10 million became infected. And nearly half a million developed multidrug-resistant TB, which poses a particular challenge. Less than one in five multidrug-resistant TB patients gain access to treatment. Of the small number who do, less than half are ultimately cured.
“On the domestic side, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that, for the first time in two decades, the number of TB cases in the U.S. has gone up. This is both heartbreaking and disgraceful. We know how to detect and cure TB—allowing patients to suffer when we have the capabilities to treat them is absolutely shameful.
“We find ourselves at a critical juncture in the fight against TB. What will it take to wipe out this disease once and for all? On this World Tuberculosis Day, I reaffirm my commitment to meeting the challenge of TB head-on. This means fostering a global commitment and collaboration across sectors. This means enhancing detection capabilities, improving diagnostics, and developing less toxic drugs. And this means making sure these efforts are paired with the funding they command. It’s time we finally make use of the resources at our disposal and foster the political will to wipe out the world’s top infectious killer once and for all.”
As co-chair of the Tuberculosis Elimination Caucus in Congress, Ranking Member Engel has been a long-time advocate for TB control efforts in Congress. This March, Ranking Member Engel wrote two letters to appropriators requesting robust tuberculosis funding both domestically and abroad. Ranking Member Engel also authored the Stop TB Now Act of 2007, which provided critically needed resources to improve the availability of TB treatments and enhance countries’ ability to address TB among their populations. Significant portions of the bill were signed into law the following year as part of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act.