Costly and Preventable Cases Continue in Five Cities

HEHS-95-11: Published: Mar 16, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the ability of public health authorities to contain the spread of tuberculosis (TB), focusing on: (1) the possibilities of containing or reversing rising TB rates; (2) federal efforts to aid state and local TB control programs; and (3) how the federal budget process will be affected by rising TB rates.

GAO found that: (1) costly and preventable TB cases are occurring nationwide and are predominantly impacting poor, urban, racial, and ethnic minorities; (2) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the highest priority of a TB control program is to detect persons with active TB and treat them with antibiotic drugs; (3) four of the cities reviewed reported that staffing shortages caused by hiring freezes, attrition, and resource limitations have affected their ability to provide TB services; (4) in many instances, local TB control programs could not ensure that TB patients would complete appropriate treatment; (5) although the federal government has increased its assistance to states and localities, state and local budgets for TB control activities have not kept pace with the need for treatment and preventive services; and (6) recent increases in cooperative agreements have increased TB funding, helped improve the number of patients who completed the full TB treatment, and increased the speed and accuracy of TB diagnoses.

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