There’s Tuberculosis (TB) and then there’s Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). Compared to TB that is not drug resistant, MDR-TB takes a greater human and economic toll because it requires longer treatment (24 months on average) with more expensive drugs (about $150,000) and significantly increases a patient’s risk of death (about nine percent of patients die during treatment).

More than 90 MDR-TB cases were reported in the U.S. in 2014, with one MDR-TB case reported in Arizona. Because of the ease of global travel, every country in the world is at risk of MDR-TB infection. The emergence and spread of MDR-TB impacts the health, economic development, and national security of countries. There is no way to eliminate TB in a country without reducing the burden worldwide.

Earlier this month, the White House released a National Action Plan For Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. The plan consists of a set of targeted interventions to address the core domestic and global challenges to control MDR-TB. While some of the push toward newer lab tests and vaccines are beyond the scope of Arizona’s Tuberculosis Control Program, we will work with our local health department partners to enhance contact investigations, follow up on those most at risk for MDR-TB, improve treatment completion rates, and evaluate local strategies to bring TB and MDR-TB under control in this state. While Arizona is a small part of the global effort, our effort is anything but small.