Fighting TB’s daily death toll of 4,000 lives; scientists in Poliwood; and how’s that weather!

Bulletins, Media bulletins

Today: 200+ scientists meet parliamentarians in Canberra

Today, science leaders and early career researchers are meeting politicians at Parliament House—a clash of cultures or a meeting of minds? The researchers are available to talk about the experience.

Read more via Science & Technology Australia.

Today: Minister Sinodinos releases National Science Statement

Recognition of basic research, acknowledgement of the need for long-term thinking, and of the need for further internationalisation of Australian science are some of the highlights.

Our friends at the Australian Academy of Science have issued a release—details at and the AusSMC has reactions at  

Tomorrow: World Meteorological Daywe’re more in the red

weather The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued its annual statement on the State of the Global Climate ahead of World Meteorological Day.

The powerful El Niño, Australia’s heatwaves, shrinking Arctic sea-ice and warming oceans outlined in the report tell the story behind what we’re seeing—coral bleaching, rising sea levels, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, and severe drought causing hardship in southern and eastern Africa and Central America.

Preventing heat deaths will be a focus at the the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne from Monday 3 April and we can offer speakers tomorrow.

Read the media release and full report via the WMO website.

Friday: TB is preventableso why will it kill 4,000 people today? World TB Day

Lord Byron once said, “I should like to die from consumption”.

This disease of choice of Romantic era poets and playwrights is making a comeback in the age of HIV, superbugs and Sustainable Development Goals.

And more than half of drug-resistant tuberculosis cases are found in countries on Australia’s doorstep.

More below. For interviews, contact me on 0417 131 977 or Tanya Ha on 0404 083 863 or

April: international public health experts head to Australia

  • Can cutting sugar and looking after our teeth cut preventable emergency room visits?
  • Sex after 65: how sexual activity and physical tenderness is part of healthy ageing.
  • International trade agreements: how do they affect our health?
  • Are our heart attack education efforts accidentally sexist?

These are just some of the topics on the agenda for the 15th World Congress on Public Health.

We’ll be on the ground in Melbourne from Monday 3 April to Friday 7 April at the Congress, providing updates throughout the week via this bulletin and at

We’ll also be tweeting from @wcph2017 on #wcph2017.

Media passes are available for the Congress—contact Ellie Michaelides on to register.

Kind regards,


4,000 lives lost each day: ending the TB death toll

Tuberculosis (TB) is treatable and preventable. So why does it still kill more than 4,000 people each day? And what do we need to do to end the epidemic by 2030? We need to talk about solutions on World TB Day, Friday 24 March 2017.

Tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in Australian 130 years ago. Rates have plummeted since then, from 1,200 per million to four per million for males and from 900 to two per million for females, thanks to better living conditions, antibiotics, TB sanatoriums, immunisation and better screening.

Globally, we’re gaining ground in the fight to end TB:

  • Between 2000 and 2013, TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment programs saved an estimated 37 million lives.
  • The TB mortality rate fell by 45 per cent and the prevalence rate by 41 per cent from 1990 to 2013.

tb TB can lie dormant and undetected for months. But a weakened immune system leads to infectious ‘active’ TB, with fever, coughing up blood, and weight loss, the last of which gave the condition its historical name, ‘the consumption’. It’s a far cry from the Hollywood or BBC versions of TB, such as Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge! elegantly dying while singing ‘Come what may’.

Despite public health gains, TB remains one of the top ten causes of death.

  • In 2015, 1.8 million people died from the disease and 10.4 million people fell ill with it.
  • People with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB and it’s a leading killer of HIV-positive people. In 2015, 35 per cent of HIV deaths were due to TB.
  • TB lives with poverty. Over 95 per cent of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, such as India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

And there are new challenges.

  • Nearly half a million people developed multidrug resistant TB in 2015.
  • Global conflict and climate change are contributing to the mass migration of refugees from countries with high rates of TB, increasing the need for disease detection and management along migration routes and in destination countries.

At the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne in April, we will hear how Australia’s and the world’s public health leaders plan to end the global TB epidemic by 2030—a Sustainable Development Goal.

“The story of TB is also the story of public health,” says congress convenor Professor Helen Keleher. “We’ve benefited enormously from a fundamental understanding of the germ theory of infectious disease. This understanding informed simple public health measures, like identifying and isolating people with active infectious diseases, and standard hygiene practices in health care.”

“TB is now the world’s number one cause of death from infectious disease, having overtaken HIV,” says Dr Suman Majumdar, a TB and health security expert at Burnet Institute.

“Whilst there has been progress in the global response, we will not reach the goal of ending the TB epidemic without addressing the emergence and spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis as a matter of urgency.

“Current projections show that by 2050, antimicrobial resistance will kill more people than cancer. Drug-resistant tuberculosis is a leading contributor to these deadly drug-resistant diseases. More than half of drug-resistant tuberculosis cases are found in Australia’s adjoining neighbours in the Asia Pacific region.”

Public health and tuberculosis experts available for interviews for World TB Day, Friday 24 March.

Public Health global experts participating in the Congress are available for media interviews for World TB Day, including:

  • Congress chair and public health guru, Professor Helen Keleher (
  • Adjunct Professor Michael Moore AM, President of the World Public Health Association
  • Dr Suman Majumdar, TB expert and deputy program director of health security at Burnet Institute.

For further information and interviews contact:


Tuberculosis at the 15th World Congress on Public Health

The World Leadership Dialogue ‘Can we end the global tuberculosis epidemic by 2030?’ will take place on Thursday 6 April as part of the World Congress on Public Health, and will be led by Dr Suman Majumdar.

Tuberculosis topics to be presented at the World Congress on Public Health include:

  • Why is there an association (co-morbidity) of diabetes and tuberculosis?
  • How should Australia manage tuberculosis in refugees coming from countries with high rates?
  • What can be learnt from the patterns of who has died from drug resistant tuberculosis in Malaysia?
  • What can we learn from mapping tuberculosis cases in Nigeria, and the socio-economic factors that contribute to it?
  • How can authorities improve the identification and treatment of tuberculosis in the poor rural areas of Bangladesh?
  • How do crowded prison cells spread infectious diseases, including tuberculosis?
  • How is the issue of tuberculosis in the workplace being handled in the Philippines?
  • How is improving the knowledge and management practices of health workers critical to lessening the burden of tuberculosis in Nigeria?

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

Feel free to pass these stories along to colleagues. And between bulletins, you can follow me on Twitter (@scienceinpublic) for more science news and story tips.
Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood VIC 3015
PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015

03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977