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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs
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Interior Provides $1.5M to RMI to Stem Outbreak of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis



February 3, 2010
For more information please contact:
Tanya Joshua 202 208-6008
Tanya_Joshua@ios.doi.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. –(February 3, 2010) – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas, Tony Babauta today signed a $1,456,932 grant under the Compact Health Sector in response to a proposal submitted by the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (GRMI) for the purpose of providing assistance in mitigating the impact of a public health crisis due to an outbreak of Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDRTB) in the Marshall Islands.

"This disease needs to be stopped in its tracks for the health of the Marshallese people," said Mr. Babauta.  "If left unchecked it would burden the community not just with expensive medical care but with lives lost prematurely.  This is not the first occurrence of drug resistant TB in the Freely Associated States (FAS).  I am increasingly concerned that given the free migration privileges of FAS citizens to the U.S., outbreaks such as this demands quick and immediate action by FAS leaders, the Federal government and U.S. jurisdictions most visited by FAS citizens.  Containment and cure should be our priority to ensure that FAS and U.S. citizens are protected."  In the recent past there has been a similar outbreak in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and I anticipate that the lessons learned will provide an excellent model for the Marshalls to follow and provide a similar outcome of success."

In 2008, an outbreak of drug resistant TB occurred in the Federated States of Micronesia.  The U.S. Government through the Department of the Interior, at that time, provided similar assistance to successfully stem the spread of the disease.  The collaboration among FSM leadership, the U.S. government, and regional leaders resulted in the Centers for Disease Control Division of Tuberculosis Elimination presenting special recognition awards to Dr. Dorina Fred of Chuuk State and Dr. Richard Brostrom of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who through collaboration and extreme competence managed and took control of the MDRTB outbreak in Chuuk, bringing compassion and understanding and preventing loss of life.