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22 Mar 2019

This year marks 26 years since tuberculosis was declared a global health emergency, but as Labor Senator from Tasmania Lisa Singh pointed out while addressing a World TB Day event in Sydney, at least 1.7 million people died from the disease last year.

That is more than the deaths from HIV and malaria combined.

Senator Singh is the Co-Chair of the Australian TB Caucus and represented that bipartisan parliamentary group at the event ahead of World TB Day on March 24.

The TB Caucus advocated for a strong commitment from Australia at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB held in New York last year.

This year, Senator Singh said much is still left to be done.

“Although 1200 or more people in Australia are treated for TB each year and there are an estimated one million Australians with a dormant TB infection, we often forget that it is still a problem,” Senator Singh said.

“Every year, approximately 100 million people globally are infected with TB, eight million develop active or infectious TB, and two million die.

“TB is a clear and present danger to population health in our closest regional neighbours of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It continues to be widespread and deadly in many Asia-Pacific countries, including Timor Leste, Cambodia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands.”

Three years ago, Australia joined countries around the world in committing to the Sustainable Development Goals and to work together on ending TB by 2030.

“The promises made by the global community at the United Nations High-Level meeting on TB last September included a commitment by Australia to accelerate action towards ending TB as an epidemic, through increased efforts and leadership on research and development, prevention, testing and treatment,” Senator Singh said.

“The Global Fund replenishment conference this October in Paris provides Australia with the platform to keep its promise.

“For World TB Day, the Australian TB Caucus is advocating that the Australian Federal Government deliver its share of global TB targets and increase its pledge to the Global Fund.

“In addition to this, the Australian TB Caucus is also asking the Government to consider contributing 0.1 per cent of Australia’s annual spending on research and development towards the development of new drugs and vaccines to combat TB.

“It’s time to do our part to be leaders in our fields of science, medicine, and diplomacy to help end this epidemic. Every dollar spent in TB returns a benefit throughout society.”






Published: 22 Mar 2019