International Community Foundation Steps up Efforts to Sustain MDR-TB Treatment along California-Mexico Border

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Foundation supports multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) directly observed therapy (DOT) program for patients in Baja California, Mexico, in response to U.S. AID funding cuts; Seeks outside funding to ensure continuity of care.

Because of San Diego’s close proximity to the border, its incidence of TB was 6.9 per 100,000 in 2010 while the national average in the United States was 3.6 per 100,000.

The International Community Foundation recently assumed fiscal sponsorship of “Puentes de Esperanza” (Bridges of Hope), a unique cross-border tuberculosis treatment program providing directly observed therapy (DOT), lab support and new treatment strategies to MDR-TB patients in Baja California. Baja California is the Mexican state with the highest incidence of TB with 49 cases per 100,000 in 2010.

The elevated incidence of TB in Baja California contributes to increased TB risks for neighboring California. Because of San Diego’s close proximity to the border, its incidence of TB was 6.9 per 100,000 in 2010 while the national average in the United States was 3.6 per 100,000. Similarly, neighboring border County of Imperial has an incidence of 13.7 per 100,000 in 2010, the highest in the State of California.

The California-Mexico border region is particularly vulnerable to the growing incidence of MDR-TB. In the State of Baja California, there were 25 known cases of MDR-TB in 2010. In San Diego, California there were 44 cases of MDR TB over the past decade, two thirds having been born in or with close ties to Mexico.

While the cross-border transmission risk for TB and MDR-TB in the California-Baja California region remains a concern, available public funding to support binational collaboration for TB surveillance, testing, care and investigation is on the decline. Over the past year, the U.S. Agency for International Development eliminated its funding for TB programs in Mexico and Latin America to focus its attention on higher risk TB countries in Africa and Asia. According to a recent World Health Organization report (, critical funding gaps remain for TB care worldwide.

Since 2006, the Puentes de Esperanza program has partnered with the County of San Diego and the State of Baja California to enable a stable supply of medications and professional monitoring of therapy for MDR-TB patients in Baja California. Since its inception, over 90% of the MDR-TB patients enrolled in the Puentes de Esperanza program received curative care, an outcome rivaling the best MDR-TB programs in the world.

To ensure the continuity of care, the International Community Foundation has assumed fiscal sponsorship of the Puentes de Esperanza program thanks to the initial support of individual donors, however, additional funding is needed. $200,000 in funding will be required in 2013 to support current MDR-TB case loads in Baja California. To ensure Puentes de Esperanza’s long-term sustainability, the Foundation must raise $4 million in endowment support.

According to Richard Kiy, President & CEO of the International Community Foundation, “support for cross-border public health programs like Puentes de Esperanza remains critical. Infectious diseases, such as TB, do not respect political boundaries.” For additional information on how to support the Puentes de Esperanza program visit:

About the International Community Foundation:
The International Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1990, whose mission is to expand the level of charitable giving internationally by U.S. donors, with an emphasis on Mexico and Central America. For more information regarding the International Community Foundation, visit

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Lisa Moctezuma
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