Today the National Tuberculosis Advisory Committee for the Communicable Diseases Network Australia have released a new Strategic Plan for the control of tuberculosis in Australia over the next five years.
The previous strategic plan (2016–2020) achieved many of its goals - laying the groundwork for TB elimination in Australia. Notably, between 2015-2020 a 38% incidence reduction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was achieved (although TB incidence for people in this group remains higher than in Australian-born residents overall). However, overall TB incidence over the last five years has not been reduced. An increase of 21% in absolute case numbers in Australia has been observed between 2015 to 2020. This is thought to be in part relating to the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Following the successes, and the shortfalls, of the previous Strategic Plan, this national strategy is the first to call for zero TB transmission within Australia as a stated aim.
"This strategic plan continues to emphasise progress towards TB elimination and towards zero TB transmission within Australia. The plan maintains existing TB control efforts alongside ten priority areas of expanded activity. The highest-priority elements of this plan are i) improving latent TB diagnosis and treatment; ii) strengthening TB surveillance; iii) strengthening contact tracing, particularly through the routine incorporation of whole genome sequencing; iv) developing and evaluating national drug-resistant TB management approaches; and v) revising national consensus approaches to TB case management."