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Can Provocative Photos of TB Sufferers Open Washington's Wallet?

As we mentioned in Friday's "This Week in GOOD," 50 cities across all seven continents debuted James Nachtwey's photographs depicting the suffering brought on by extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis. We stopped by the New York event where a panel of TB experts and TED curator Chris Anderson outlined the challenges presented by the epidemic, which, according to a recent Time article, affects half a million people, mostly in developing countries.

Nachtwey (pictured, right, with Paul Simon) then explained his wish to "bring this problem out of the shadows" and coax a couple billion dollars out of some political pockets. It's all in the hope that what Gandhi said is true: "If the cause is just, the means will come."

By the looks of it, Nachtwey and TED are off to an inspiring start. By Friday afternoon, presidential candidates Obama and McCain each issued statements pledging that if elected they would launch an initiative to fight the XDR-TB epidemic. McCain promised "a sustained commitment" to helping people in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere "cope with the ravages of this devastating disease." Obama said that he would combine the efforts of the great minds that attend the yearly TED conference with a Washington that did its part. "As President," his statement said, "I will live up to our commitment to fighting this epidemic, and together, we will make it clear that America is ready to lead again."

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If viewing Nachtwey's compelling images doesn't get XDR-TB on your priority list, Marcos Espinal, the executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership served up a grim warning: While it's typically a disease that affects poor populations, it's an airborne contagion-one that people can encounter when packed onto an airplane with crowd of breathing, coughing people for a several-hour, international flight.

CORRECTION: During editing, TED curator Chris Anderson was mistakenly identified as TED founder Richard Saul Wurman. We apologize for the error.

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