IMAGE: Professor Brendan Crabb and Associate Professor Justin Denholm at the World TB Day 2016 Seminar
Tuberculosis and poverty remain inextricably bound, and the disease will not be eliminated until the condition is effectively addressed.
That was the key message of Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC’s address to the ‘Reach, Treat and Cure Everyone’ World TB Day Seminar held to highlight the advances and challenges of reaching the ambitious goal of TB elimination.
“TB is amongst the worst infectious diseases in human history and continues to be amongst the most significant health problems the world faces today,” Professor Crabb said.
“It’s also amongst the most important impediments to development in some of the world’s poorest nations, especially in this region.”
IMAGE: Burnet Infectious Diseases Physician Dr Suman Majumdar presents on the management of TB in PNG
Professor Crabb singled out the organism’s resilience and issues relating to the efficacy of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines as significant factors in TB’s status as the leading infectious cause of death globally.
But the most important factor is poverty, which, particularly in the developing world, is compounded by stigma associated with TB.
“TB is affecting the world’s poorest and most neglected people because it’s worse in people with poor housing, poor nutrition and who live in an environment where the health system is broken or inadequate,” Professor Crabb said.
“But TB also drives poverty because an individual diagnosed with TB loses three-to-four months of work, and if they die of TB, their family loses an average 10-15 years of average salary,”
IMAGE: Journalist and TB advocate, Jo Chandler
“In areas of most poverty, TB contributes to around $12 billion of economic loss and is a very significant factor in the reduction of the GDP in those nations.
“You combine these factors and you see why there is a lack of resources and will to address this enormous problem.”
Professor Crabb said control of TB relies heavily on research and innovation, more effective civil society engagement and development activities, and a collective effort from countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Other speakers included Associate Professor Justin Denholm, Chair TB Forum, and Burnet Infectious Diseases Physician Dr Suman Majumdar who reported on the RID-TB program to reduce the impact of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB in Western Province, Papua New Guinea.
The event was supported by Burnet Institute, TB Forum, The Peter Doherty Institute, and the Victorian Tuberculosis Program.