I want to highlight the global challenge of one of the world’s deadliest diseases: tuberculosis. In many countries in our region, TB is still a major disease threat. Indonesia has the second-highest TB burden in the world, and PNG is a hotspot for drug-resistant TB. TB can be prevented with access to better diagnosis and better treatment. Technical partners such as the Burnet Institute have made an enormous contribution to public health initiatives, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has played a critical role in global efforts to end TB, saving more than 44 million lives over the past 20 years, including 17.7 million in the Indo-Pacific. Australia has contributed almost $1 billion to The Global Fund since it launched, helping to make a real impact.
The pandemic has provided an important opportunity to fight TB and COVID-19 at the same time in PNG by increasing investments in common tools and health workers to fight both diseases. However, the pandemic has also reversed some gains. For the first time in over a decade, TB deaths increased in 2020. Continued support from The Global Fund will help countries in our region get the fight against these diseases back on track after the impacts of COVID-19. This is a worthy fight. It is one Australia contributes to and it’s one we can win.