Australian TB Caucus Welcomes Rt. Hon. Nick Herbert MP

                                                                                        

14  February 2017

Australian TB Caucus Welcomes Rt. Hon. Nick Herbert MP to discuss global TB solutions

The Rt. Hon. Nick Herbert MP, the Co-Chair and a founding member of the Global TB Caucus, is in Canberra this week to meet with Australian parliamentarians and Members of the Australian TB Caucus. Since its launch 2000 politicians from 130 countries have joined the Global TB Caucus, including 20 from Australia.

Warren Entsch MP, Co-Chair of the Australian TB Caucus with Matt Thistlethwaite MP, has been a long-time supporter of funding for TB. He was one of the first Australians to sign the Barcelona Declaration having seen the effects of TB in rural Australian communities and in Papua New Guinea, where drug resistant tuberculosis is on the rise.

“We have a great burden of TB cases here in the Asia-Pacific and it is only increasing. When you see the devastating effects it has on families, communities and economies you can’t help but be moved to action,” says Mr Entsch.

Nick Herbert’s interest in TB was spiked when he was taken on a parliamentary delegation by RESULTS UK to Kenya in 2006 with RESULTS UK.

“I had no real knowledge of TB and was drawn by the HIV aspects of the delegation, but soon realised that TB was a problem of similar, if not greater, magnitude.  In fact, due to TB and HIV co-infection the life expectancy in that part of Kenya at that time was lower than the age I was when I visited,” explains Mr Herbert.

Warren Entsch believes it is this lack of awareness that has made fighting the disease so hard.

“The truth is most parliamentarians, like most people in the community, think TB is gone or no longer a major problem. They simply don’t know the global effect of it and they don’t know it kills more people than HIV and malaria now – diseases where significant progress has been made.”

Nick Herbert is here to meet with the Australian TB Caucus – which has 20 cross-party members – and to learn about Australian efforts to end tuberculosis and in the Asia-Pacific and PNG specifically.

“Australia is currently funding several projects in PNG to combat this rise which we know will be of great interest to Nick,” says Mr Entsch.

Both Mr Herbert and Mr Entsch believe political action must include investment in research and development.

“Without greater investment in diagnostics, better drugs and vaccines we can’t expect to meet the global goal of ending TB by 2030, in fact with our current commitment levels it will take 100 years,” says Mr Entsch.

“As parliamentarians we are in a position to press for resources and we need to really pursue our governments for more accountability.”

“The number of politicians that have joined the Global TB Caucus proves there is political will amongst many to meet the goal to end TB by 2030, and that this “forgotten disease” – and those that live and die with it – are not alone,” says Mr Herbert.  ”Still, without action – as well as will – we can’t achieve this goal.

“1.8 million people a year die from TB yet people think it’s eradicated or that there is a vaccine, but they’re not focussing on the fact that drug-resistant TB could have an effect on the whole global community,” he added.

“Our meeting today is a clear example of how we need to be tackling this problem with a global perspective because diseases have no respect for borders.”

End

For more information on  the global impact of TB see the Global Tuberculosis Report 2016.

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Contact: Monique McDonell, Media and Communications Manager, RESULTS Australia | monique.mcdonell@results.org.au | Ph: 0414 555 653

The Australian TB Caucus is a group of Australian federal parliamentarians committed to raising awareness of tuberculosis among their parliamentary colleagues and to securing Australian support for ending the global TB epidemic. The Secretariat of the Australian TB Caucus is hosted by RESULTS International (Australia).

 




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