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The World’s top tuberculosis official, UN Envoy Dr Eric Goosby, arrives in Australia today to highlight the urgent threat posed by multi-drug resistant tuberculosis on Australia’s doorstep, in southern Papua New Guinea.

Dr Goosby will meet a host of Australian decision makers, academics and clinicians while in Australia before travelling to the Torres Strait.

While the global death toll from Tuberculosis has halved since 2000, it continues to claim more lives than any other preventable disease. Globally, there are 1.8 million deaths each year, with 940,000 of them in the Asia Pacific. Our region shoulders approximately 62 per cent of the global burden with 6.9 million cases per year.

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest TB infection rates in the world, with 30 000 people (in a population of 7.5 million) newly infected each year.  The island of Daru – not far from Cape York, in far north Queensland – has one of the highest rates of multi drug-resistant TB infection in the world.

Dr Goosby will be welcomed in Australia by the Australian TB caucus which is co-chaired by Warren Entsch MP, Member for Leichhardt and the Honourable Matthew Thistlethwaite, MP, Member for Kingsford Smith.

“Tuberculosis is a gut wrenchingly horrible disease. While it may have slipped from Australian consciousness it is a harsh and grim reality just kilometres from our northern border. While Dr Goosby is here, we intend to impress the urgency of multi-drug resistant TB in Papua New Guinea,” Mr Entsch said.

Mr Thistlethwaite said Dr Goosby’s visit was an opportunity to keep the scourge of tuberculosis in the minds of Australian leaders and policy makers.

“Australia has demonstrated commendable commitment to ending tuberculosis, most especially through our commitment to the Global Fund. We must make sure that commitment is unwavering.”

Dr Goosby previously served as Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Director of the UCSF-UC Berkeley Institute for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy.

Dr Goosby contracted latent TB as a young doctor in San Francisco.

To arrange an interview, please call Nick Lucchinelli: 0422 229 032

Background on Australia and TB:

  • By investing in reducing the burden of TB in our region, the Australian Government will assist in reducing further the risks of TB and its more deadly and costly multi-drug resistant forms.
  • In 2016 Australia pledged AU$220 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – a 10% increase on its previous (2014) pledge.
  • In 2015 Australia announced AU$30 million in funding over three years for product development partnerships
  • In 2014 Australia made a three-year commitment of AU$15 million to support TB prevention, control and care in PNG. This funding agreement also expires in 2017.