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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


TB Challenge: Partnering to Eliminate TB
in African Americans

World TB Day, Georgia Style

Gail Burns-Grant, Program Consultant, DTBE/FSEB

On March 24th, World TB Day is observed around the globe. This day's annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of the tuberculosis (TB) bacillus. This year, the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) TB Control Program, the Georgia Lung Association, and CDC worked collaboratively to send the message loud and clear that while strides have been made in the United States to eliminate TB, there is still work to do. With the theme, “TB Elimination: Now Is the Time!” on their minds, the Georgia team kicked off the day in grand style. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General and former CDC Director, now serving as Director of the new National Center for Primary Care at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Beverly DeVoe, Georgia TB Control Program Director, DHR, presided over the occasion, and the newly elected President of the Concerned Black Clergy, Pastor Darrell Elligan, provided the inspiring invocation calling for a “divine intervention” to eliminate TB. Georgia's event demonstrated the spirit that must be ever present to win the battle against TB disease: TB elimination will demand the mobilization and maintenance of public support. Georgia's roster of invitees represented some of these supporters who have demonstrated their commitment despite the challenges that TB control programs have encountered over the past several years.

Dr. Rose Sales, State Epidemiologist, Georgia TB Control Program, presented surveillance data that showed Georgia as one of 12 states in the United States with TB case rates higher than the national average. Dr. Sales reported that in 2003, blacks (non-Hispanic) represented 59% of all TB morbidity in Georgia. She added that while there have been gains in Georgia, challenges still remain; some include racial disparities, an increase in TB in foreign-born persons, and low rates of completion of preventive therapy. Dr. Satcher's stated in his keynote address, “We are trying to control and prevent disease in cultures, but the culture is not clear to us!” This will no doubt be clearer to Georgia as they enter the third and final phase of a CDC-funded demonstration project, “Intensification of TB Prevention, Control, and Elimination Activities in African-American Communities in the Southeastern United States.” Georgia is working collaboratively with community leaders and TB stakeholders to close gaps and open opportunities for TB prevention and control in Fulton County, Georgia. Findings and tailored interventions from this project may be translatable to other parts of the state and throughout the nation to reduce TB rates in this population.

Dr. Zach Taylor, Chief, Field Services and Evaluation Branch, Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, CDC, gave the occasion's closing remarks, capsulizing the day's activities. He asked, “Why do we have this day?” His answer was quite startling, but true. “Because TB is a global problem; 8 million persons become ill from TB and 2 million die annually worldwide.” He called for vigilance for TB elimination and turned to two former TB patients in the audience, invited by the state TB program to present personal testimonies about their experience with TB and said, “The true heroes are the patients who take their medication(s) and who defeat this disease.” He concluded by stating, with conviction, that we will win the battle against TB “one patient at a time.”


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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