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Tuberculosis (TB)

Although treatable and preventable, tuberculosis (TB) remains a global public health crisis, causing an estimated 1.6 million deaths every year. Drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), TB-HIV co-infection and inadequate tools to diagnose, treat and prevent TB are major drivers of the global epidemic. Through collaboration and innovation, Burnet aims to make a significant impact on TB and affected individuals and communities.

Our main objectives are to:

  • work towards achieving global targets to eliminate TB as a public health threat by 2030 through partnerships, community engagement, technical assistance to national programs and accelerating the implementation of innovation and research
  • engage with the TB-affected community and key populations to identify their needs, empower them to be at the forefront of the response and inform our work
  • address drug-resistant tuberculosis as a crisis and threat to global health security
  • address TB in key populations: people living with HIV, children and adolescents with TB, people who use drugs, migrants and refugees
  • establish and strengthen partnerships with governments, national TB programs, academic institutions, reference laboratories, civil society and implementing partners working to end TB
  • support governments and funders to optimise resource allocation decisions and efficiency, using modelling and software tools
  • enhance surveillance systems for TB to identify hotspots and drivers of transmission, including molecular epidemiology, geo-spatial mapping and new technologies (electronic data systems and mobile health)
  • conduct discovery research to develop a point-of-care test and a test to determine the priority of TB treatment
  • strengthen health systems for TB, including laboratory capacity in resource-limited settings
  • implement and evaluate integrated, community-based TB elimination strategies in low-resource settings that use a comprehensive (search-treat-prevent) approach
  • provide technical assistance to national TB programs
    in program design, evaluation, implementation support and training
  • training and capacity building for operational research within country programs and national research institutes. 

Addressing TB requires addressing health inequities and considering the bio-social complexities of the disease and its transmission. Burnet’s capacity extends from basic, discovery and translational research to working with local non-government organisations and at-risk communities, with high-level government agencies and international partners.

Our focus is on the Asia-Pacific region, which carries the majority of the global TB burden. Utilising our breadth and depth in research, international development and public health, we are providing support to national TB programs to strengthen health systems, design and evaluate programs and build capacity for operational research.

We want to accelerate change through interventions that are informed and driven by the local stakeholders and community. Burnet has a major focus on building local health worker capacity and strengthening systems to sustain the response.

Our approach to TB is centred on healthcare delivery through our international programs and is linked with research. It is focused on four key activity areas in Myanmar, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Timor-Leste: 

  1. epidemiology, surveillance and modelling 
  2. TB diagnostics, including novel diagnostic assays and laboratory capacity strengthening 
  3. innovative models of health care delivery, coupled with operational and implementation research 
  4. capacity building for research within country programs and national research institutes.

Together, here are some of the ways we’ve made a positive contribution towards reaching global TB elimination targets:

  • making significant progress towards combatting the major DR-TB outbreak on Daru Island in the Western Province of PNG through the Reducing the Impact of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (RID-TB) project
  • worked as the key technical partner in the PNG government’s emergency response to DR-TB. At the field level, our team has supported improvements in clinical care and case management, improved the diagnostic and treatment capacity of the hospital, improved patient care and support in the community, strengthened routine data systems, and supported planning and coordination. Excellent patient outcomes are now being seen, with the vast majority on a path to cure
  • engaging and empowering the TB-affected community through a pilot model of patient education and counselling (PEC) that trains a team of peer counsellors or “TB-PALS” (People Affected by, Living with, or having Survived TB)
  • developing the Myanmar national TB research agenda with the Department of Medical Research and the national TB program (NTP)
  • working to develop novel reagents for the serological diagnosis of TB
  • collaborating with the Institute for Pathogen Biology in Beijing in TB diagnostic development
  • working to identify biomarkers of the innate immune response that characterise and predict TB-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome
  • supporting the Australasian Tuberculosis Forum, which aims to create close connections between the broad range of policymakers, clinicians, patients, scientists and public health workers working for TB management, control and elimination in our region.

is the number of presumptive pulmonary cases expected to be enrolled in the PNG arm of a multi-country randomised control trial of new tuberculosis point-of-care technology. The trial will be run by the PNG Central Public Health Laboratory in partnership with the PNG Institute for Medical Research (PNGIMR) and Burnet.

€2.8 million

is the amount of TB treatment costs that could be reduced in Moldova if an extended ambulatory care model of TB treatment was implemented, as identified in a Burnet-supported study. The country could achieve the same treatment outcomes while significantly reducing costs compared to the current hospital-based care model.


is the number of people in high-risk TB settings to be screened using a mobile TB service as part of the Burnet-supported, Zero TB Yogyakarta initiative in Indonesia.


is the number of participants from key institutions in PNG who received hands-on mentorship from Burnet researchers as part of a consortium of institutions led by Menzies School of Health Research to conduct their own operational research projects on drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.

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