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New Research Indicates Need for Case Management for Mobile Tuberculosis Patients

AUSTIN, TX -- March 3, 2016 -- A new journal article released today revealed that an average of 2,827 people with active tuberculosis (TB) leave the United States each year, and only about ten percent of those patients receive case management to assure treatment continuation and completion at their new destination. The article, co-authored by researchers Cynthia Tschampl, PhD, her colleagues at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Management and Policy, and Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) Chief Medical Officer, Ed Zuroweste, MD, was published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. The authors utilized data from Health Network, MCN’s bridge case management system, which assists patients in continuing treatment for any condition while the patients move domestically or internationally.

“This important research demonstrates a gap in the provision of continuity of care for mobile tuberculosis patients, which could lead to risk of noncompletion of treatment and development of drug resistance,” emphasized Dr. Zuroweste. 

The authors discussed the implications of its findings on public health: “Because many mobile persons with TB may return to the United States and the global prevalence of MDR-TB is increasing, scaling up transnational care–continuity services would benefit the US directly and bolster international TB control efforts. Use of such services would reduce suffering, save lives, build goodwill with receiving countries, improve global TB surveillance data, and bolster economic productivity.” The authors then conclude that the most complete policy response may be to make case management systems like Health Network and San Diego Public Health Services’ CureTB available to all referring clinicians with patients suffering from TB. 

Dr. Tschampl has worked closely with MCN to review and analyze data on mobile TB patients who received case management through Health Network. 

“We are very pleased to see this work being published since it sheds new light on TB in mobile populations, one of the greatest challenges to our global health systems. The study also highlights an underutilized opportunity for the US to contribute to the prevention and control of this leading infectious killer,” said Dr. Tschampl.

The article’s release was timed to coincide with World TB Day, which is celebrated annually on March 24th. Emerging Infectious Diseases is an open-access journal published monthly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The full text of the article is available online at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/3/14-1971_article.

The Heller School for Social Management and Policy works to drive positive social change through research, education, and public engagement that inform policies and programs designed to address disparities in well-being and promote social inclusion in a sustainable way.

Migrant Clinicians Network is a national organization that serves over 10,000 health care professionals and promotes health justice for the mobile poor through practical solutions at the intersection of poverty, migration, and health.

 

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