Today I announce a three-year package of assistance to support tuberculosis control in Papua New Guinea. PNG has the highest rate of TB infection in the Pacific, with an estimated 39,000 total cases and 25,000 new infections each year.

The additional $15 million in funding will bring Australia’s support for TB control in PNG to $60 million by 2016-17. The funding will focus on improving management of drug resistant TB, a growing problem due to patients failing to complete treatment, inadequate treatment regimes, and high rates of transmission within communities.

The package aims to strengthen TB prevention and improve diagnosis and surveillance through better laboratory facilities, increasing hospital and community treatment and care and providing access to transport, nutrition and counselling services to ensure patients complete treatment.

The new funding takes Australia’s overall funding for TB treatment and prevention in Western Province to $44.7 million by 2016-17, and also expands our assistance to the National Capital District (Port Moresby), which accounts for 25 per cent of PNG’s TB cases.

While the number of new cases is falling globally, TB remains a serious challenge in our region. Of the estimated 9 million people who developed TB in 2013, more than half (56 per cent) were in the Indo-Pacific. Australia continues to support our neighbours to develop and fund flexible and responsive health systems better equipped to combat TB. The Australian Government has also funded partnerships which bring new medicines, diagnostic tests and vaccines to market, with a particular focus on drug-resistant TB.

Australia’s pledge of $200 million in core funding over 2014-16 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has also contributed to 12.3 million new TB cases being detected and treated globally.

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