The Australian TB Caucus (ATBC) brings together Members of the House of Representatives and Senators with a keen interest in the issue of tuberculosis (TB) and how Australia can best secure support and expertise to contribute to the global eradication of the disease.
(Pictured, left to right - Doctor Mike Freelander MP, Warren Entsch, Federal MP for Leichardt, Sharon Claydon MP, Federal Member for Newcastle, Doctor Andrew Leigh MP, Federal Member for Fenner, ACT)
Launched in March 2016, the Australian TB Caucus (ATBC) currently has 23 members and is part of a network of Global TB Caucus comprising over 2,300 MPs in 150 countries.
The ATBC brings together Members of the House of Representatives and Senators with an interest in the issue of tuberculosis (TB) and how Australia can best secure support and expertise to contribute to the global effort to eradicate the disease.
The Caucus focuses primarily on the Asia-Pacific and increasing Parliamentary awareness about TB and its impact. Technical assistance to the ATBC is provided by the Australasian Tuberculosis Forum (ATF), a regional group of researchers, policy-makers and patient advocates working towards control and elimination of TB through leadership, collaboration, advocacy and education.
The Australian TB Caucus is Co-Chaired by the Hon. Warren Entsch MP and the Hon. Sharon Claydon, MP.
The ATBC is formally registered with the Presiding Officers as the Parliamentary Friends of Tuberculosis Group. The ATBC Secretariat is hosted by RESULTS International (Australia) and is supported by a network of Australian and international TB experts and advocacy partners from the Australasian TB Forum.
The role of the Secretariat is to ensure that Caucus members are well-informed in a timely manner about TB related issues. The Secretariat assists in actions that advance the Caucus’s aims among their constituents, in Parliament, through the media and regionally/globally.
The ATBC Secretariat is hosted by RESULTS International (Australia) and is supported by a network of Australian and international TB experts and advocacy partners from the Australasian TB Forum.
Please find here the 2018 Annual Report for the Australian TB Caucus.
Co-Chairs of the Australian TB Caucus
The Hon. Mr. Warren Entsch MP
TB is a disease that most people thought was in the past and was isolated to small pockets of some impoverished countries. The reality is TB is the largest infectious disease killer in the world. It killed more than 1.7 million people last year – more than HIV, Malaria and HIV combined.
It is the only infectious disease transmitted by air and with 60 percent of the world TB burden in the Asia-Pacific region, with PNG and Indonesia baring a lot of that burden. Already, we are seeing TB making its presence into the Torres Strait and Cairns. The stark reality is that with modern travel, TB can be transmitted anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. There has never been a communicable disease that has not been cured without a vaccine. The current TB vaccine, developed in 1921, is totally ineffective to the new strains of TB.
This disease can be cured but a lot more work needs to be done.
Sharon Claydon, MP, Member for Newcastle
Current Members of the Australian TB Caucus
Mr John Alexander MP
The Australia TB Caucus is working to raise greater awareness around the need to eradicate this potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs.
The Australian TB Caucus is dedicated to seeking this change through engagement and by raising its profile . We have some of the most advanced medical facilities here in Australia, and yet we have some of the worst cases of tuberculosis in countries right on our doorstep. We need to strengthen our resolve to eradicate TB.
Mr. Trevor Evans MP
Australia is a sanctuary in more ways than one, considering the diseases causing tragic loss for people and societies much closer than many would think—a mere three-hour flight from my constituency in Brisbane.
Despite generally declining worldwide rates of infection and death due to TB, it remains a stubborn and deadly challenge, especially on our doorstep in the Asia-Pacific region. These days TB kills more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
Australia faces a moral and economic imperative to be a leader in our region when it comes to fighting this disease.
Dr Mike Freelander MP
Tuberculosis has been a scourge around the world for many generations.
We have been lulled into a false sense of security that TB has been eradicated in the developed world.
We now know that this is not the case, and there has been a recrudescence of TB, even in countries such as Australia.
We now have multi-drug resistant forms of TB on our doorstep.
It is vitally important that we recognise that TB still occurs. We need much better tools to fight TB, and it is very important that we focus our research on better ways to combat the scourge of TB.
Senator Louise Pratt
Ending Tuberculosis in the Indo-Pacific region is an imperative for Australia as a nation with the capacity to provide support and expertise to the cause of eradicating this terrible virus.
TB is still considered one of the principal ‘diseases of poverty’ as it is more commonly contracted in areas where people are in sub-optimal living conditions, do not have access to quality health care and have poor nutrition.
Australia as a wealthy, prosperous nation has a responsibility to help end inequality in health, poverty and indeed, TB diagnosis within our neighbouring nations across the Indo-Pacific region.
The Hon. Mr. Matt Thistlethwaite MP
Over 60 percent of the world's TB cases are in the Asia Pacific region, where six million people are falling ill each year.
Drug-resistant TB is now a public health crisis in neighbours such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
We need to do more and take a leadership role in our region to help protect healthcare workers like Dr Sauk from contracting the disease.
Senator Dean Smith
Despite significant progress over the last decades, TB continues to be the top infectious killer worldwide. The World Health Organisation reported that there were 1.8 million TB deaths in 2016 with the bulk of these deaths occurring in developing nations.
When we say 'developing nations', Australians automatically tend to think of the nations of Africa. But it is important to realise that this epidemic is one that is very much occurring in our own region. In 2016, the largest number of new TB cases occurred in Asia.
It is my hope that Australia's ongoing efforts to provide support to nations in our region suffering through the epidemic will play a significant role in reducing the disease's impact in the years immediately ahead.
Mr. Andrew Wilkie MP
It’s enormously important to address tuberculosis in the Asia-Pacific region, not least because it’s home to 58 per cent of the world’s TB cases.
Not only is the human toll of TB severe but the economic cost is significant as well because it hits hardest in the poorest countries and takes billions of dollars out of the global economy.
TB and other infectious diseases are a significant barrier to people moving out of extreme poverty, which is widespread in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia can play an important role in eradicating the disease by supporting research and partnerships like the Global Fund.
Other Members of the Australian TB Caucus
George Christensen MP
Sharon Claydon MP
Senator Richard Di Natalie
Stephen Jones MP
Nola Marino MP
Senator Jennifer McAllister
Ken O'Dowd MP
Senator Deborah O'Neill
The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP
Senator Lee Rhiannon
Maria Vamvakinou MP