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June 9, 1999

The Need for Global Action Against Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Heymann and Wilson), the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Department of Medicine (Dr Brewer), Harvard Medical School (Dr Wilson), and Harvard University (Dr Fineberg), Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1999;281(22):2138-2140. doi:10.1001/jama.281.22.2138

Imagine a new disease. It spreads by droplet nuclei. Humans carry it from one country to another. The disease infects both healthy persons and those with compromised immune systems. For every person evidently ill, 10 to 20 are infected silently, and as many as 10% per year of those who are immunocompromised will develop active disease and spread the infection. The disease is curable with drugs that are available in industrialized countries but considered too expensive for developing countries. Left untreated, the disease is likely to affect tens of millions worldwide and kill at least half of those who develop active disease. It seems clear that the global health community would make an urgent commitment to fight such a disease, if there were an opportunity to stop it early in its spread.

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