News Release
   
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   March 22, 2001

Christine Grant
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Chris Gage
609-984-7160

 

Department Issues Revised TB Strategic Plan
Saturday is World TB Day



TRENTON - The Department of Health and Senior Services today issued a revised strategic plan for eliminating tuberculosis in the state. The release coincides with the World Health Organization's annual World TB Day (Saturday, March 24, 2001).

The state's plan was originally prepared and published in 1992 by an American Lung Association of New Jersey advisory committee at the request of the state health department. It has been revised to include many of the suggestions made in a recent Institute of Medicine report, Ending Neglect: The Elimination of Tuberculosis in the United States.

"It is encouraging that in New Jersey we continue to see annual decreases in the number of reported TB cases," said Commissioner Grant. "Still, it's important to remember that TB remains a significant health problem and we must continue our efforts to further accelerate reductions."

Recommendations incorporated in the revised state plan include targeted screening programs, universal use of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for the length of treatment for active TB cases, and improving education for private providers. Since implementing its original strategic plan in 1992, New Jersey has seen a marked and steady decrease in the number of active TB cases.
The revised plan will be sent to chest clinics, various health organizations, voluntary agencies, hospitals and local and county health departments for implementation.

"It is imperative that state and local partners work together in tuberculosis control and prevention activities," said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, State Epidemiologist. "The significant decreases in TB cases in New Jersey is encouraging, but the rise in the number of foreign born cases is an issue that needs our continued attention."

"Tuberculosis is a global problem, which must be managed locally. We will never control TB in this country until we control it worldwide, since infectious diseases do not stop at the border," said Dr. Lee Reichman, executive director of the New Jersey Medical School National Tuberculosis Center at UMDNJ.

Between 1992, when the state adopted its strategic plan, and 2000, there was a 43 percent reduction in active tuberculosis morbidity in New Jersey. In 2000, there were 565 active TB cases reported in New Jersey, the lowest number of cases reported in the previous 14 years.

Despite these reductions, there are still areas of concern. Active TB cases continue to occur among children, those with concurrent HIV/TB infection (13% of the cases), immigrants and refugees who choose to settle in New Jersey, and those with substance abuse problems. In addition, individuals with TB with complex diagnostic and management problems continue to occur.

There are 36 chest clinics throughout the State approved by the Department that offer a full range of TB services, including medical evaluation and testing. The clinics, which are operated by hospitals or local health departments, served more than 12,500 patients who made more than 66,500 visits in 2000.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is marking March 24 as World TB Day to focus worldwide attention on the international health threat presented by Tuberculosis. WHO estimates that nearly one third of the world's population are infected with TB bacteria and that among infectious diseases, TB remains the second leading killer in the world, with two million TB-related deaths each year.

The revised report can be found at the Department of Health and Senior Services website at www.state.nj.us/health/. For additional information on the World Health Organizations TB Day events visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.



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