Jakarta Globe (03.22.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
The Centre of Research Excellence in TB Control (TB-CRE) recently opened at the Centenary Institute in Sydney, Australia. The $2.5 million multinational research center has been designed with the aim of controlling TB in Australia and reducing its impact on the Asia-Pacific region. The staff includes researchers from six countries who work on TB control with the goal of eliminating the disease in Australia and surrounding areas by 2050.
Dr. Bernadette Saunders, a chief investigator at TB-CRE, explained that TB is a major problem in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. Papua New Guinea diagnoses more than 14,500 new TB cases every year; most of the time, treatment is not available. Some of their worst cases are sent to Australia for treatment. Saunders advocated health authorities working together as a region to ensure all persons have access to medication and continuous treatment. She noted that interruptions in medication and the inability to take drugs continuously for the six months of treatment can cause a patient to develop drug resistance, which is much harder to treat.
According to Saunders, treatment of multidrug-resistant TB takes approximately two years of medication and the drugs may produce serious side effects. Hence, it is important to make sure patients with drug-susceptible TB can get medication and that they adhere to treatment for the entire six months. She expressed hope that the initiative would provide expertise for developing new drugs, new therapies, and new policies to reduce TB in Asia-Pacific countries.