17 Mar 2008

Australian government renews commitment to fight TB in Pacific

5:37 am on 17 March 2008

The Australian Government has reiterated its commitment to fighting tuberculosis in the region.

Last year, it was estimated that tuberculosis had infected 50 percent of Papua New Guinea's population and continued to spread.

It is also a significant problem in the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

The Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, says Australia is aware of the importance of integrating the response to HIV and TB as people with AIDS are 50 times more likely to contract TB.

He says people need to be reminded that tuberculosis remains a significant global problem.

"People think that tuberculosis is a problem that's been solved because it's essentially been solved in Australia and people are not aware that there is a very serious tuberculosis issue in our region here in the Pacific, and that there are dangerous new strains of drug resistant tuberculosis in our region."

Bob McMullan says TB kills 2-million people every year, which is unacceptable when it preventable and curable.