IMAGE: Keynote speaker Valda Kereu addresses the TB awareness event at Parliament House
The fight against tuberculosis (TB), the world’s most deadly infectious disease, came to Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday for an event supported by Burnet Institute to help build awareness about the impact of TB in the Indo-Pacific region.
A prelude to World TB Day, which falls this coming Friday, March 24, the breakfast gathering gave around 30 federal parliamentarians from all sides the opportunity to show their commitment to global action to defeat TB.
Representing Burnet were Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Deputy Program Director (Health Security) Dr Suman Majumdar, and Head, Public Affairs and Development Paul Rathbone.
Keynote speaker, TB survivor and health care worker Valda Kereu from Papua New Guinea (PNG) spoke of the impact of stigma as a significant problem for people living with TB.
“Don’t forget about TB – it affects many people, including many women and children in Papua New Guinea and across the Asia Pacific,” Ms Kereu said.
“It is the world’s number one infectious disease killer and we need to act to prevent unnecessary deaths.
“At present the treatment regimen for TB is complicated and time consuming, which stops many people from receiving or completing treatment and in PNG drug-resistant TB is on the rise.”
Ms Kereu was diagnosed with TB while working in Daru, in PNG’s Western Province, which has one of the highest rates of multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB infections in the world.
She is passionate about the fight against TB, the rights of people with TB and getting better treatments for TB sufferers.
Tuberculosis is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing about 1.8 million people a year.
Global action against TB is having an impact, with an estimated 43 million lives saved between 2000 and 2014 as a result of effective diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Despite these advances, ten million people fall sick to the disease each year, nearly 60 per cent in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.
Find out more about Burnet’s TB programs.