As she winds down her almost three decades long career in Congress, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., has turned her attention to trying to eliminate tuberculosis (TB).
On Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen joined U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel, D-NY, Gene Green, D-Tex., and Don Young, R-Alaska, to unveil the “Comprehensive TB Elimination Act.” Green, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Health Subcommittee, is the sponsor of the bill.
While most TB cases--95 percent of them--are in developing nations, more than 9,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with the disease. Green’s bill reauthorizes the National Strategy for Combating and Eliminating Tuberculosis; funds the CDC’s Division of Tuberculosis Elimination; sets up grants to state and local government and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) so they can continue fighting TB; and have the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study efforts to fight the disease.
“I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which reauthorizes the Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Act of 2008,” Green said on Tuesday. “We must continue to remain committed to providing the resources necessary to develop new tools, better diagnose TB infections and accurately identify resistant strains of drug-resistant TB.”
“Tuberculosis should be a disease of the past but, unfortunately, over 9,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. “Tuberculosis is a potentially deadly illness that we must continue to fight by innovating improved vaccines and treatments that respond to evolving strains. I’m proud to join with my colleague, Gene, in order to help eradicate the incidences of this disease in our nation.”
“In Alaska, tuberculosis is still a prominent issue which is why I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation,” said Young. “In 2016, we had nearly three times the national average cases of TB reported in Alaska. Eliminating TB, and the many stigmas surrounding this infectious disease, is important for the well-being of our most vulnerable communities. This bill will help to equip our public health officials with the necessary resources to effectively manage and decrease the spread of TB.”
“TB is a disease we know how to prevent, treat and cure – and yet, it remains the number one infectious killer worldwide,” said Engel. “Sadly, TB often takes the greatest toll on the most vulnerable among us, including young children. We must do more to defeat this killer once and for all, and I am proud to help lead this effort.”