October 9, 2006
Contact: Melissa Campbell
UMDNJ Hosts TB Case Conference
with Ugandan Physicians Thursday, Oct. 12
NEWARK — Medical professionals and scientists from two continents regularly connect via conference call to discuss cases of tuberculosis (TB) in order to prevent a particularly virulent form of extreme drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) that is emerging as a serious wake-up call for global health. Intelligent and cost-effective use of technology helps them review chart information and test results simultaneously.
The call is part of an international effort, began in 2003, between TB researchers at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda to study proactive strategies to treat multidrug-resistant TB.
The next International MDR-TB Case Conference call is scheduled for Thursday, October 12 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at the ICPH Building, 225 Warren Street, Newark. Members of the media are invited to observe this dynamic and innovative international medical program.
Although the recent resurgence of TB in the United States has been brought under control, the disease continues to be a global public health crisis. A newly recognized threat to TB control is the emergence and spread of extreme drug resistant TB (XDR-TB), that is, TB caused by bacterial strains that have become resistance not only to standard TB treatment (known as multidrug-resistant TB) but to the second-line or back-up drugs as well. Drug resistant TB is a result of poor medical management and inadequate public health policies.
Participants in the Clinical Case Conference include the New Jersey Medical School team on site at Mulago Hospital in Kampala and UMDNJ investigators and colleagues at the UMDNJ Global TB Institute in Newark, NJ. A relatively inexpensive electronic scanner is used to make digital images of the chest radiographs (x-rays) taken at Mulago Hospital. These images and the patient and laboratory information are then incorporated into PowerPoint™ slide presentations that are viewed simultaneously by conference participants in both Kampala and Newark during an international telephone conference call.
An extremely simple and cost-effective way for TB experts and clinicians to discuss and manage difficult medical problems across continents, the conference has been well received by colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic. Based on the success of this program, a similar conference for the community-based public heath workers in both Newark and Kampala to share ways of delivering directly-observed therapy, the best method to assure completion of therapy, is in development.
The long-term success of this MDR-TB treatment program is vital to ensure the survival of affected patients, to eliminate the chain of transmission and to avoid the development of XDR-TB, which would be a public health catastrophe in Uganda. At the conclusion of the UMDNJ research project in December 2009, the goal is for the Uganda National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme to have the necessary tools to assume full responsibility for the diagnosis and management of MDR-TB patients in Uganda and for the prevention of XDR-TB.
Founded in 1954 as the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School was the state’s first medical school. Today, it is part of UMDNJ, the nation’s largest health sciences institution. More than 5,500 students attend the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.