Health advocates push for Australia to take greater role against TB

Australia’s leading tuberculosis experts and health advocates will meet Federal parliamentarians to push for an increased and coordinated response to the tuberculosis crisis in the Asia-Pacific.

Burnet Institute, Aeras, TB Alliance, TB Centre for Research Excellence (TB-CRE), RESULTS International (Australia) and Policy Cures will outline the daunting health challenge of tuberculosis at a special World TB Day parliamentary briefing hosted by Senator the Hon. Brett Mason, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, 24 March.

“Australia has a crucial role to play in the response to TB. It is a major issue on our doorstep with 58 per cent of global cases in the Asia Pacific region; this is a threat to both our neighbours and ourselves,” Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Crabb said.

“A scale up of existing healthcare methods alone is unlikely to be sufficient, TB needs innovative solutions. We urgently need research at all levels, including developing new vaccines, diagnostic tests and drugs.”

In 2012, 1.3 million people died from tuberculosis worldwide, a preventable disease, with 40 per cent of those deaths occurring in developing countries of the Asia-Pacific.

“We’ll be asking the Government to facilitate a coordinated response to combat the disease that is both treatable and curable, but is becoming more entrenched in our region due to drug resistance,” RESULTS International (Australia) CEO, Ms Maree Nutt, said.

Failure to address DR-TB will result in major long-term human and economic costs, which may pose a serious threat to the development and security of our region.”

Globally, the prevalence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) has risen from an estimated 440,000 cases in 2008 to 680,000 in 2012.

“Health advocates will also call upon the Government to mobilise regional political commitment and resources to fight the disease and convene a high-level roundtable meeting to develop a coordinated strategic response to rid the region of TB,” Ms Nutt said.