23 March 2015

Australia’s leading tuberculosis (TB) experts and health advocates will meet with Federal Parliamentarians today to launch the newly formed TB Forum and push for an increased and coordinated response to TB in the Asia-Pacific.

The Hon. Julie Bishop MP will be a keynote speaker at the launch. The Minister will outline Australia’s key leadership role in addressing TB in the Asia Pacific region, and will meet with former TB patients, researchers and medical professionals working on the front line of TB care in the region.

The TB Forum is a new collaborative network of policy makers, health workers, researchers, people affected by TB and advocates working to end the TB epidemic in our region.

In 2013, an estimated 9 million people developed TB worldwide, and 1.5 million died from the disease. Almost half a million people were diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB, a serious form of TB that is difficult to treat. Given that TB is a preventable and curable disease, the death toll from TB remains unacceptably high. While Australia has managed to reduce the burden of TB substantially over the last hundred years, other countries in the Asia-Pacific region continue to battle against high rates of TB.

Representatives from organisations such as the Burnet Institute, Aeras, TB Alliance, the TB Centre for Research Excellence, RESULTS International (Australia) and Policy Cures will outline the daunting health challenge facing the region.

The TB Forum launch will be hosted by Senator Dean Smith, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, at Parliament House in Canberra in the lead up to World TB Day.

“Australia has a crucial leadership role to play in the response to TB. Given that it is a preventable and curable disease, we can and should aim to rid the region of this disease using the best available evidence and tools to do so ” Dr Justin Denholm, Chair of the TB Forum said.

“A scale up of existing healthcare methods alone is unlikely to be sufficient to end the global TB epidemic. We urgently need innovation and research at all levels, including for the development of better vaccines, diagnostic tests and drugs,” Dr Mary Moran, Executive Director, Policy Cures said.

Burnet Institute Director and Chief Executive Officer, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said “there is a compelling case for Australia to continue to invest in innovative TB research and support our neighbours to strengthen health services and systems to combat TB. This serves the most vulnerable populations, while promoting economic growth and sustainable development in our region.”

RESULTS International (Australia) CEO, Ms Maree Nutt, said. “TB places an extraordinary economic burden on communities and traps people in poverty. The World Bank estimates that the loss of productivity attributable to TB is 4 to 7 per cent of some countries’ GDP.”


Further information:

Dr Justin Denholm – Chair Australasian TB Forum

M: 0407 453 950

Maree Nutt – CEO RESULTS International (Australia)

E: maree.nutt@results.org.au M: 0404 808 849  

Paul Rathbone – Head, Public Affairs

Burnet Institute

E: prathbone@burnet.edu.au M: 0416 195 458

Dr Mary Moran – Executive Director

Policy Cures

E: mmoran@policycures.org M: 0414 489 994