A new study to be published in tomorrows New England Journal of Medicine shows that United States investment in tuberculosis (TB) treatment abroad saves lives and money at home. Most cases of TB in the US and Canada occur among immigrants, refugees, visitors, and other migrants from countries where this disease remains common.
An international team led by McGill University Health Centre researchers Dr. Dick Menzies, Dr. Kevin Schwartzman, and Ms. Olivia Oxlade predicts that better TB control in high incidence countries would reduce transmission there, and result in fewer migrants developing TB disease in the US, fewer TB-related deaths in the US, and financial savings in the US. This research was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The current US approach to TB screening of immigrants and refugees depends on chest X-rays obtained before or on arrival, with treatment of tuberculosis when detected. The research team predicted the number of TB cases, related deaths, and costs over the next 20 years that would occur as a result of this strategy in migrants arriving in the US from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. They compared these results with expected outcomes if TB control programs in these three countries received US funding to improve diagnosis and treatment in the home country--to the standard recommended by the World Health Organization.
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