MR ENTSCH: I move:
(1) notes that:
(a) 24 March is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, a day to commemorate the precious lives lost due to TB, a disease that is preventable and curable;
(b) TB is contagious and airborne—it is the world’s leading infectious disease killer and kills more people than HIV/AIDS;
(c) in 2017 alone, 1.6 million people died from TB worldwide and 10 million people became sick with the disease; and
(d) there is a funding gap of US$1.3 billion annually in TB research and development and it is critical to develop quicker diagnostic tools, better drugs, and a new TB vaccine in order to end the TB epidemic;
(a) that the funding that Australia is providing jointly with the World Bank to support testing and treatment in Papua-New Guinea is already leading to an initiative to achieve universal testing for TB in Daru; and
(b) the provision of $75 million over five years for Product Development Partnerships in the Indo-Pacific Health Security initiative to accelerate access to new therapeutics and diagnostics for drug-resistant TB and malaria, building on the successes of Australia’s previous investments; and
(3) calls on the Government to:
(a) develop an action plan to monitor the progress made towards the targets and commitment made at the UN High-Level Meeting on TB; and
(b )make an increased financial commitment to the Global Fund at its Replenishment Conference in October 2019.
Tuberculosis is a disease that most people thought was a thing of the past or isolated to small pockets in some of our more impoverished countries.
I, for one, had assumed the disease was no longer an issue, but nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s a tragic fact that, although tuberculosis is a preventable and curable disease, 10 million people on this planet develop it over a year, of whom about 1.6 million that we know of actually die.
TB is today’s world-leading infectious disease today, having surpassed HIV and taking more lives than HIV, malaria and Ebola combined.
The first step in achieving global health security is ending epidemics of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria.
We need to stop diseases from killing people now. Australia needs to continue to stand up and be counted and lead the charge in the fight against TB.
In 2012, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established.
Since its inception, the global fund has saved an estimated 27 million lives and has been able to cut deaths from HIV, TB and malaria by one-third. In 2017 alone, it treated 3.6 million people for TB, put two million people with HIV on antiretroviral therapy and distributed 46.7 million insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets throughout our region.
Next month, the global fund is convening an international replenishment pledging conference in Lyon in France to raise funds for the next three years so it can continue its critical work.
The target is to reach at least US$14 billion. The global fund provides more than 65 per cent of international funding for TB and is responsible for nearly 50 per cent of TB funding in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2016, Australia pledged $220 million to the global fund for the years 2017 to 2019.
This time around, we as a nation are being asked to contribute $300 million to the fund.
The UK has already pledged 1.2 billion pounds, which equals about A$12.50 per Briton per year. Canada has pledged Can$390.4 million, or roughly $A9.10 per Canadian per year.
The $300 million the Australian government is being asked to contribute represents just $3.85 per Australian per year—roughly the price of a cup of coffee, or less.
In fact, for every dollar invested in the global fund, around $22 is spent in the Indo-Pacific region—a pretty good return on investment, if you ask me.
Furthermore, it aligns with the Australian government’s foreign policy objectives in the Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific.
This investment by Australia has the capacity to save 16 million lives. It is our responsibility as good global citizens to do the right thing.
TB has no respect for national borders.
The stark reality is that, with modern travel, TB can be transmitted anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours.
In our region, the challenges of drug-resistant malaria in the Greater Mekong and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Asia continue to present significant health security risks to Australia and our neighbours.
Take Papua New Guinea, for example: the distance between our outer Torres Strait Islands and the coastal villages or Western Province of Papua New Guinea, which is a boundary of the northern part of my electorate, is fewer than four kilometres.
Papua New Guinea has the highest number of TB cases in the Pacific region and the 30th highest globally.
Unfortunately, the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis burden has remained constant over the past three years.
In saying that, the Global Fund supports PNG’s entire national response.
I shudder to think what the fatalities would be like in PNG and what the impact would be on Australia without the assistance of the Global Fund.
Next month’s Global Fund meeting in Lyon in France is critical. I look forward to seeing Australia being represented.
Once again, it will provide us with an opportunity to show the world that we are actually leaders in this campaign and not just followers.
I’d also like to call out and commend James Cook University for the outstanding work that they are doing in this field, working towards the one thing that will make a difference: a vaccine.
There has never been an infectious disease that has ever been cured with a vaccine, so good on JCU for the work that they’re doing.