New York Times Examines Emergence Of XDR-TB In Australia, PNG

“Australia’s first death from XDR-TB — extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is nearly incurable — has alarmed health officials and added new heat to a debate over how to treat immigrants with dangerous diseases,” the New York Times reports. “A long string of small Australian islands — bits of what was once a land bridge — mingle with islands belonging to Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s poorest nations,” the newspaper notes, adding, “One of those islands, Daru, has a major TB outbreak in its shantytowns.”

“But the health system in Papua New Guinea is overwhelmed,” the New York Times writes, adding, “A World Health Organization report found serious drug shortages, and Australian television showed XDR patients mingling with others in Daru Hospital tuberculosis wards, raising the risk of spreading resistant strains.” The newspaper continues, “Australia, which otherwise has little tuberculosis within its borders, is still debating how to respond,” noting, “Treatment for drug-resistant TB — when it works — can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars” (McNeil, 3/25).