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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3452


Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) (20:00): I rise to speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Melbourne Ports. I thank him for his contribution tonight and I also thank the member for Brisbane for her contribution in speaking about what is a very important issue, the scourge of tuberculosis. To pick up where the member for Brisbane left off, I acknowledge RESULTS International, a fantastic NGO doing fantastic work in this area by advocating on behalf of those suffering from tuberculosis and by also seeking to have greater money available to fight this disease.

World TB Day will be recognised this Saturday, 24 March. It is estimated that about a third of the world's population has been infected with TB at one point or another in their lives. That includes a large number of Australians. Indeed, my mother has been infected with tuberculosis and has grown up with it. She is not quite sure where it occurred but she believes it may have occurred when she was working as a young social worker in Brisbane in the late 1940s. Senator Cory Bernardi speaks very openly and poignantly about his battle with tuberculosis. So it is a disease that has come to this building. It is something that affects a large number of people across the world but very much in our own backyard.

The vast majority of those who suffer from this disease are in the developing world. Only about five to 10 per cent of people who are infected with TB ultimately develop the disease in a full-blown sense. Since the vast majority of those who develop TB live in the developing world, the disease is very much one of poverty. It is estimated that there are 14 million active cases of TB in the world today. It is estimated that 8.8 million people were infected in 2010 and it is thought that up to 1½ million people died in that year alone because of tuberculosis. In some countries in the developing world it has been estimated that the rates of infection are as high as 80 per cent. But, to give you a sense of the extent to which this is a disease of the developing world, that compares to rates of infection of five to 10 per cent in a place like America.

The disease very much affects young adults, who are at the prime of their active lives. Whilst this has a very human impact, it has a very significant economic impact, taking people out of the workforce and dramatically affecting the productivity of people at the most productive part of their lives. When you add to that that in 2009 some 10 million children around the world, largely in the developing world, were orphaned as a result of tuberculosis, you get to understand the critical impediment to development that tuberculosis represents.

More than half the TB disease burden globally is in our part of the world, in the Asia-Pacific region. So it is very much an issue that affects us here in Australia. Australia contributes to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through the Global Fund, which deals with each of those three diseases. Since 2004 we have contributed $250 million to the Global Fund. By 2013 we will contribute another $170 million.

The Global Fund has spent about $3.6 billion on its fight against tuberculosis. Since 2002, 8.6 million people have been treated by the Global Fund, but the rate is on the increase: 1.3 million in 2008, 1.4 million in 2009 and 1.7 million in 2010. The good news here is that the rates of tuberculosis are on the decline, such that it is likely that we will meet the millennium development goal of halving the mortality rate associated with tuberculosis by 2015, compared with the rate in 1990. In the Western Province of PNG we have had significant amounts of tuberculosis. This is right on the border of Australia and over a four-year period Australia is committing $8 million to the fight against tuberculosis there, working with the authorities. But there remain very significant challenges ahead. The member for Melbourne Ports mentioned the correlation between those infected by HIV-AIDS and those infected by tuberculosis. This is a real issue, as is the issue of multidrug-resistant TB, which is on the increase. It is estimated that only about 12 per cent of cases of multidrug-resistant TB are notified every year, and that has to improve. This is a critical issue. Much is being done but there remain many more challenges in the future. I very much commend this motion to the House. (Time expired)