In observance of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is emphasizing its ongoing commitment to supporting disease education, control and prevention, say officials.
“Although significant progress has been made in the fight against the disease, ongoing effort and commitment are required to ultimately eliminate TB,” said state Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
“The Department remains committed in our efforts to support local and regional programs to combat TB in our state.”
NJ Department of Health officials state that March 24 marks the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch shared his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB.
Tuberculosis, which is preventable and curable, is spread through the air from person to person and typically affects the lungs, but can also affect the brain, kidneys or spine, say officials. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing TB, including babies and children, and people who have medical conditions such as HIV or diabetes.
According to NJDOH officials, in our state, there were 292 new cases of TB reported last year, which represents a more than 70% decrease since the nationwide resurgence of TB in 1992 saw 982 cases in New Jersey.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 10 million people worldwide became sick with TB and 1.5 million people died as a result of TB in 2020. However, an estimated 66 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2020 as a result of global efforts to end TB, say officials.
NJDOH officials say the theme of this year’s TB Day is “Invest to End TB. Save Lives.”
Last year, the Department granted $3.7 million in state and federal funding to local health department TB programs. Officials state that this includes $2.9 million awarded to the six regional TB specialty clinics located in Bergen, Camden, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Morris counties, which provide services to all residents.
NJDOH officials say the regional TB clinic system performs clinical evaluation, treatment, prevention and epidemiological services in concert with the county and municipal health departments.
Overall, NJDOH provides financial assistance, direct assistance (such as supplies and laboratory services), and technical assistance (such as education and training) to support TB prevention and control activities performed by local health departments throughout the state.
In addition, the Global TB Institute at Rutgers, funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers state-of-the-art treatment, conducts research, and provides consultation, education, and training to physicians and health officials, state officials.
For more information, visit NJDOH’s Frequently Asked Questions page and the state’s Tuberculosis Control Program page: https://www.nj.gov/health/hivstdtb/tb/faq.shtml; https://www.nj.gov/health/hivstdtb/tb/
To learn more about World TB Day, visit the World Health Organization’s World TB Day 2022 page: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-tb-day/2022.
CDC also shares information about World TB Day and TB resources: https://www.cdc.gov/tb/worldtbday/default.htm