(Dr. Bark, Senator Brown)

CLEVELAND, OH – Following an increase in Tuberculosis cases in Ohio, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited MetroHealth Medical Center’s Tuberculosis Clinic today to call for full funding of efforts to eliminate this deadly disease. Brown joined Dr. Charles Bark, director of MetroHealth Tuberculosis Clinic, who outlined the need to direct additional resources to eradicate multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

“When diseases in other nations are never more than a plane ride away, we need to do more to keep Ohioans safe from the threat of tuberculosis,” Brown said. “Eradicating tuberculosis requires more funding, not less. While I am pleased with the Administration’s new initiative to combat drug-resistant TB, we cannot expect progress if we don’t dedicate adequate resources that are so important to this effort—without funding, this will be just another plan on a shelf.”

Tuberculosis has caused more deaths than any other single infectious disease worldwide, killing more than 1.5 million people each year. Although there has been a global reduction in tuberculosis deaths since 1990, more than 4,000 people continue to die from this disease every day. In Ohio, the number of tuberculosis cases increased from 2013 to 2014 and the rate of cases in Cuyahoga County is the third-highest in the state.

“We enthusiastically welcome this National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant TB. Our patients could benefit from such interventions as new tests that rapidly identify drug resistance, allowing for the early initiation of appropriate therapy and the prevention of continued disease transmission,” said Charles Bark, MD, director of MetroHealth's Tuberculosis Clinic.

Following Brown’s call, President Obama recently announced the Administration’s National Action Plan for combating MDR-TB.  The plan lays out a comprehensive strategy to both mobilize political will and seek additional financial and in-kind commitments from public health, private-sector partners, and governments of all affected countries. It is now important that this plan receive robust funding, so that it can become a reality.

MetroHealth’s Tuberculosis Clinic houses the Cuyahoga County Tuberculosis Program, which is the designated clinic for the reporting, treatment, and investigation of all tuberculosis cases in Cuyahoga County.