On March 24, the world will recognize the 35th annual observance of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.
For most of us, the word “tuberculosis” is often forgotten, since the number of cases has dropped thanks to public health and surveillance efforts in the developed world, making it easy to forget that tuberculosis is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
The Critical Path to TB Drug Regimens (CPTR) – a consortium within the larger Tucson-based nonprofit the Critical Path Institute (C-Path) – is waging the global fight against tuberculosis through collaboration with TB research organizations, academia, and the pharmaceutical industry.
But C-Path is not the first Arizona-based organization to be at the forefront of TB diagnosis and treatment. Nearly a century ago, Tucson Medical Center established roots in Tucson as a TB treatment facility.
At the turn of the 20th century, cramped and heavily populated cities along the Eastern seaboard served as an ideal environment for the highly infectious tuberculosis. Though it would be years until the first successful antibiotic was developed, physicians of the time noted the benefits of dry, fresh air and a warm, sunny climate.
By the 1920s, the ideal weather and rural areas made Southern Arizona the “premier destination” for tuberculosis patients.
One such destination for TB patients was the internationally known Desert Sanatorium in Tucson. The historic “Desert San” provided an ideal environment for those suffering from tuberculosis.
During World War II, the Desert Sanatorium found itself stripped of critical staff and resources, eventually closing its doors in 1943. They wouldn’t remain closed for long, however. The Tucson community rallied to raise the necessary funds to convert the local landmark into a brand-new hospital — Tucson Medical Center.
“This site and these efforts would soon become Tucson Medical Center,” said Mimi Warwick Coomler, vice president and chief nursing officer of Tucson Medical Center Some of the original buildings remain in service today, as a testament to the importance and impact of a community’s strength and commitment to eradicating a disease that continues to this day.”
Today, TMC stands tall upon its deep roots – providing first-rate medical care to community members for more than 70 years. TMC has not forgotten its origins as a leading name in tuberculosis therapy so many years ago – and values C-PATH’s strong efforts to stop the spread of TB throughout the world.
Although TB is far from the disease it once was, reports within the last 10 years have shown some bacteria to be resistant to anti-TB drugs.
Organizations such as C-Path are continuing the work that was started so long ago by the Tucson Medical Center – leading the way in global TB diagnostics and drug development. C-Path’s CPTR initiative is working with a global coalition of leading international pharmaceutical companies, public health experts, and regulatory authorities to bring the best TB care to those who need it most.
On March 24, we reflect on the lessons of the past successes achieved through strong partnership and collaborations. TMC strongly supports C-Path’s CPTR initiative – a meaningful step toward a global victory over tuberculosis.