Senator Boxer: Progress on TB Bill
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
I am pleased to let you know that the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed my legislation (S.968), a bill that would increase funding to combat international tuberculosis. TB is a vast international threat that claims the lives of 1.6 million people each year.
TB is also a concern in California, which has more TB cases than any other state in the country. In fact, ten of the top twenty U.S. metro areas for TB case rates are in California: San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, Stockton, Sacramento, Ventura, Vallejo, and Oakland.
The good news is that we know how to treat and cure TB. My bill will provide increased assistance for the prevention, treatment, and control of tuberculosis. We have an obligation to take the steps necessary to thwart this infectious killer immediately.
My legislation, coauthored by Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), would bring U.S. policy in line with the Global Plan to Stop TB, a ten-year strategy launched last year at the World Economic Forum by an international coalition of 500 governments, non-governmental organizations, private sector organizations, and others to cut the number of TB deaths in half by the year 2015. The bill would authorize up to $400 million for fiscal year 2008 and up to $550 million for fiscal year 2009 for foreign assistance programs that combat international TB.
This funding increase is especially important because of the recent outbreak of extremely drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), a particularly virulent and lethal strain of tuberculosis which is resistant to many drugs used to combat TB.
One-third of the world is infected with the bacteria that causes TB, and an estimated 8.8 million individuals each year develop active TB. Tuberculosis is a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and of people who are HIV-positive. XDR-TB is particularly lethal. In one South African town, 53 TB patients were found to have XDR-TB; all but one died.
Millions of people worldwide, and many people right here in California, will benefit from better prevention, treatment and control of tuberculosis. I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken this important step. You can count on me to continue to work to ensure that this legislation becomes law.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer