An article in the 5/19/16 New Your Times by a doctor who has had TB told how her life was changed because of the disease. Her form of TB was the drug-resistant type that is becoming more and more common. She was taking 23 pills a day, plus some I.V. injections. She states that we still have an ineffective TB vaccine and with the increasing resistance of the TB bacteria, we have major problems. Sadly, President Obama's global health budget request for next year's TB aid was cut by 19 percent. Yet our military takes up about half of the budget. We certainly have our priorities wrong.
I find that few pediatricians these days do annual TB skin tests and annual chest X-rays for adults also seem to be a thing of the past. With many immigrants coming into the U.S. and the decline in our health care, major problems are looming. If I were a parent today, I would insist on an annual TB skin test for my children. I did these routinely when I was in pediatric practice and always insisted my grandchildren have TB tests when I took them to their pediatricians. One doctor said to me, "We don't do that", but I insisted and it was done when I took my grandson to his pediatrician for his yearly physical.
There is a frightening statistic in the article that says 9.6 million people worldwide had TB in 2014 and 1.5 million people died. We certainly can do better than that. We need another Dr. Salk or Dr. Sabin, the two doctors who saved so many from polio. Our doctors have almost eradicated smallpox, so why can't eradicate tuberculosis?