Image: The AAI TB course participants on a tour of Burnet's laboratories
The challenge to devise and implement innovative programs to address the heavy burden of tuberculosis (TB) in Indonesia is the focus of specialised training for 26 Indonesian health professionals underway at Burnet Institute.
Funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the two-week course is supported by Australian Awards Indonesia (AAI), which provides high quality professional development opportunities in Australia for Indonesian professionals and future leaders.
Burnet is hosting it in collaboration with the Menzies School of Health Research and the University of Sydney.
“Most TB programs are focused around diagnosis and treating people for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB, and while that’s important to reduce deaths it doesn’t lead to elimination of TB,” Dr Philipp du Cros, Burnet Infectious Diseases Specialist, said.
“What we need to do is to also include prevention treatment to stop those exposed to TB from getting active disease, and that’s what this course focuses on.”
The primary task for the participants, who include clinicians and doctors working in public health, pharmacists, nurses and senior NGO staff drawn from across the country, is to develop activities to be implemented within their own TB programs in Indonesia.
“The activities will be 100 percent run by them, down to the fact that if the activity costs money to set up and maintain, they have to find the money and start to implement, so it’s quite a high level course in that respect and a great chance to see how the learning gets put into action,” Dr du Cros said.
“Clearly they are very engaged, they know the key challenges and are keen to use this as an opportunity to try something a little bit different to seek to find local solutions to what is a big challenge.
“Indonesia has a very high burden of TB, of TB-HIV co-infection and drug-resistant TB, so it’s got this triple scourge to tackle and we need to look at some new solutions, and this is an enthusiastic group ready to take on that challenge.”
Menzies TB researcher Dr Trisasi Lestari believes the collaborative aspect of the course is one of its strengths.
“It’s very important because Australia doesn’t have a lot of TB cases, but you have a lot of TB experts here with different perspectives and skills, and the opportunity to bring them together, to meet and learn from them and network is excellent for the participants,“ Dr Lestari said.
Find out more about Burnet’s TB research and programs.