December 28, 2012

Closure of QLD Tuberculosis Control Centre

The Australian Lung Foundation writes to express its concern over the closure of the Queensland Tuberculosis Control Centre (Courier Mail Sept 10).

Australia has made great strides in almost eliminating tuberculosis deaths in recent decades and the TB Control Centre has been at the forefront of ensuring that Queensland has maintained the lowest rates of TB amongst the five large Australian states. However, as we have seen elsewhere in the world, notably in the United States, dropping our guard at this stage will put this record at significant risk.

Trade, immigration and tourism link Australia closely to Asia where tuberculosis is not a disease of the past.  In 2003, there were an estimated 9.7 million prevalent cases of TB, of which some 5 million were new cases, and international travel will ensure that Australia will continue to be exposed to this risk. A centralised control system that is able to monitor the movements and contacts of individuals infected with TB is absolutely vital to ensuring that TB infection is ‘contained’ and not spread. Unfortunately, the wholly inadequate decentralised system proposed by the government will lack the overarching control and oversight needed to direct this.

This is undoubtedly a short-sighted decision that takes the cause of TB control in Queensland back 50 years, and one that future generations of Queenslanders will come to rue.

As the peak body promoting lung health for all in Australia, The Australian Lung Foundation urges the Queensland Government to reconsider its decision.

David Serisier, Chair
The Australian Lung Foundation
Bowen Hills Qld