WASHINGTON – Overseas health workers treating patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, the bug that set off a recent international health scare, would get a $50 million assist under a measure adopted Thursday by the House.
The money would go to purchase drugs, train health-care workers and build, equip and operate laboratories overseas, under an amendment approved by the House. Most of the money would be spent in Africa.
TB can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but forms of the bacterial disease that have developed resistance to those drugs are a growing worry. Of particular concern is "extensively drug-resistant" TB, or XDR-TB.
Andrew Speaker, infected with that highly dangerous form, recently evaded federal health officials as they tried to find and isolate him as he traveled throughout Europe. He's now hospitalized in Colorado.
Federal health officials had warned him not to fly on commercial aircraft and urged him to turn himself in to health officials in Europe. Instead, Speaker flew to Montreal, rented a car and managed to drive across the U.S. border, even though officials had flagged his passport.
The $50 million was attached to a $34.2 billion bill to fund State Department operations and foreign aid. Its sponsors were Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and New Jersey Democrat Donald Payne.