Working to support TB’s youngest and most vulnerable
By Senator Claire Moore and Dr Joyce Sauk Published by DevPolicy on March 24, 2017
On the 24th of March, 1882, Dr Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism responsible for the illness of the same name.
This year, the theme for World Tuberculosis Day — commemorated annually to mark Koch’s discovery — is ‘Unite to End TB: Leave no one behind’.
In this piece for Croakey, Labor Senator Claire Moore, a founding member the Australian TB Caucus, argues that more must be done for TB’s youngest and most vulnerable.
Claire Moore writes:
It’s the world’s deadliest infectious disease: it kills an estimated 1.8 million people annually around the globe, and another 30,000 contract it each day.
It’s an illness without a universally-effective vaccine and, even in its milder forms, requires patients take around 700 tablets over the course of six months to be cured.
That disease is tuberculosis (TB).
In early twentieth-century Australia TB was the leading cause of death for Australian women, and the second-leading cause of death for men. But a hundred years later, for reasons including improved general health and living conditions, the use of antibiotics and better TB screening, domestic rates of TB are among the lowest in the world: Australia has just over a thousand cases a year.
In our region, the story of TB is not quite as rosy.
Many Asia-Pacific nations are rapidly emerging from poverty and, throughout the developing world, there is abundant good news on the health front.
But TB is an airborne, bacterial illness and the risk of contracting it increases with crowded living conditions, malnutrition and other infections such as HIV. All of this is complicated by emerging drug-resistant forms of the disease which are costlier and more complicated to treat.
While TB rates are falling around the world this is not happening as quickly as for other major illnesses, and the Asia-Pacific carries over 60% of the world’s TB burden.
To read more visit Croakey here.