Tuesday, 5 April 2011

TUBERCULOSIS: Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) statement

23 Mar 2011
World Tuberculosis Day (24 March) gives us an opportunity to take stock of our progress in tackling a disease that kills nearly two million people each year, mostly in developing countries.
In Australia, we don't often think of tuberculosis as a major disease. However, in 2009 it killed 1.7 million people around the world.
It is also a major health issue in our region – in 2009, 55 per cent of all new tuberculosis cases were in Asia and the Pacific.
To tackle this problem, AusAID is supporting tuberculosis control programs and surveillance efforts in Kiribati, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. These programs are showing good results.
In Kiribati, Australian support has contributed to a major decrease in tuberculosis cases from 745 in 2007 to 294 in 2010.
Australia is working with the Government of Papua New Guinea to minimise cross-border tuberculosis transmission between northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea's Western province, through support for laboratories, surveillance and training.
Australia is cancelling up to $75 million in debt owed by Indonesia over six years so they can invest $37.5 million in tuberculosis programs approved by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Australia has also pledged $210 million over the next three years (2011-13) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. To date, programs supported by the Global Fund have provided tuberculosis treatment for 7.7 million people worldwide, including 2,200 people in the Pacific.
Globally, we are making progress, with mortality and infection rates declining - but the disease continues to be a serious health issue.
People living with HIV are particularly susceptible to contracting tuberculosis and emerging multi-drug resistant tuberculosis poses a major threat to efforts to halt the disease. AusAID supports the World Health Organisation, which is leading efforts to address these problems.
We know there is a big task ahead but tuberculosis is preventable and it is curable.

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