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Burnet Institute has joined with Australia’s leading tuberculosis experts to launch a new collaborative network, TB Forum, at Parliament House, Canberra ahead to World TB Day.
Representatives from the TB Forum called on Federal Parliamentarians for an increased and coordinated response to TB in the Asia-Pacific region.
The TB Forum brings together policy makers, health workers, researchers, people affected by TB, and advocates working to end the TB epidemic in our region.
Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said there was a compelling case for Australia to continue to invest in innovative TB research.
“We must support our neighbours to strengthen health services and systems to combat TB,” Professor Crabb said.
“This serves the most vulnerable populations, while promoting economic growth and sustainable development in our region.”
Foreign Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop, who was the keynote speaker at the launch, outlined Australia’s key leadership role in addressing TB in the Asia-Pacific region, where rates of TB are high. Ms Bishop also met with former TB patients and medical professionals working on the front line of TB care in the region.
A preventable disease, TB causes more than 1.5 million deaths each year and an estimated nine million people suffer from the air-borne disease, worldwide. Almost half a million people are diagnosed with multi-drug resistant TB, a serious form of TB that is difficult to treat.
The launch was hosted by Senator Dean Smith, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of HIV/AIDS, Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Burnet Institute joined with representatives from Aeras, TB Alliance, the TB Centre for Research Excellence, RESULTS International (Australia), and Policy Cures to discuss the daunting health challenges facing the region.
Chair of the TB Forum, Dr Justin Denholm said 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 Denholm said.
The World Bank estimates that the loss of productivity attributable to TB is four-to-seven per cent of some countries’ GDP.