Public Health Crucial in Fight to Control TB
March 24 commemorated World Tuberculosis (TB) Day and marks the day in
1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the germ that
causes TB. The 2012 World TB Day campaign in the U.S. focused on the
slogan "Stop TB in My Lifetime". In Georgia, TB cases dropped 62
percent from 909 cases reported in 1992, the peak year of a TB resurgent
period in Georgia, to 347 cases in 2011. The Georgia Department of
Public Health (DPH) TB Program attributes the decline in TB cases to
successful public health program interventions.
The majority of TB cases in Georgia are treated in public health
clinics. Program interventions include directly observed therapy,
effective case management and thorough contact investigations conducted
by dedicated public health staff.
Georgia TB program staff, along with state TB laboratory and TB program
staff from districts close to Atlanta, participated in the CDC-sponsored
annual TB Walk held at Grant Park in Atlanta on World TB Day. The group
participates every year and is often joined by other DPH employees.
The DPH TB program uses World TB Day to raise the public's awareness that
without a strong public health infrastructure, TB can once again become an
epidemic here in the U.S., as it still is around the world; and to advertise
TB clinic services available at county health departments across the state.
Public health clinics provide TB medications, TB skin tests, bacteriology
exams, chest radiographs and clinic visits free of charge to patients with
active TB and to patients and their contacts still being evaluated for TB.
Many challenges to controlling TB still remain. TB disproportionately
affects racial/ethnic minorities in Georgia. In 2010, non-Hispanic blacks,
Asians and Hispanics accounted for 51 percent, 18 percent and 17 percent of
TB cases in Georgia while only representing 33 percent, 3.5 percent and 8.8
percent of the population respectively. Timely treatment completion is
lower than the state average among cases who are homeless, HIV-infected,
illicit drug users and in correctional facilities. It is through public
health's dedicated efforts that Georgia can overcome these challenges.
-Story by: Rose-Marie Sales, Director, Tuberculosis Program, Georgia
Department of Public Health
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