March Madness has another meaning to me: the madness that 4,000 people die every day of a preventable, treatable, curable illness, principally because they are poor and marginalized. That illness is tuberculosis, the leading infectious killer in the world.
March 24 is World TB Day, a good day to take a small action to honor the 1.7 million people who died last year of TB.
TB is a cause of poverty. It is also a consequence of poverty.
The vast majority of TB-related deaths occur in lower income countries. Living in poverty makes you more likely to get TB, and getting TB makes you more likely to be pushed into poverty (or deeper into it). People who live in decent conditions, who have adequate nutrition and health care rarely die of TB.
TB is treatable and curable, with the right support and appropriate, daily medications. The thing is, it takes months, and dedicated, durable health care is something only some of us have access to.
Here's the small action to take: call Senators Murray and Cantwell, and Representatives Heck, Kilmer, Smith, and Herrera-Beutler -- it matters! -- and let them know you want them to fight for strong U.S. funding to help end this epidemic.
Let's confine March Madness to the basketball court, not the graveyard.