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Health Spokesperson Raises Questions About TB

Maori Party Health Spokesperson Raises Questions Around TB

Tariana Turia, Health Spokesperson for Maori Party

Friday 10 November 2006

Co-leader of the Maori Party, Tariana Turia, today raised questions around the fears of another outbreak that have emerged from the latest case of forty Palmerston North Girls High School students being tested for tuberculosis.

“When you start doing the maths around recent TB outbreaks, we have to start asking what’s going on” said Mrs Turia.

In August this year, 1800 students at Palmerston North Boys High School, their families and teachers were tested for TB, finding 206 people had been exposed to the bacteria and 18 required treatment.

Around that same period of time, sixty people were tested in Nelson after a student at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology was found to have TB; classmates and teachers at two intermediate schools in Palmerston North were tested, and up to 200 students at Canterbury University were also found to have been exposed.

“Most people think of TB as a third world disease – and it is – but we all need to be a lot more aware of the risk factors to prevent further onsets from occurring” said Mrs Turia.

“It is simply not tolerable that some of the cases that have occurred this year have been treated as routine, meaning diagnosis has been delayed”.

Key risk factors for patients are associated with poverty, such as overcrowded living conditions; living in poorly ventilated interior environments in close proximity with other people.

“One of the biggest tuberculosis outbreaks in recent years was traced back to Rangipo Prison” said Mrs Turia. “I recall taking these concerns to the Minister of Corrections back in 2001, asking that the Department review its inmate health policy to check on health status when receiving new prisoners or transferring inmates”.

“Last month, a study published in the Medical Journal confirmed the incidence of tuberculosis still remains relatively high amongst Maori and Pasifika peoples” said Mrs Turia.

The Maori Party will be writing to the Minister of Health, asking for his reassurance that GPs, public health officials, and health promotion workers be reminded of the importance of being vigilant in the diagnosis, treatment and social contact tracing for tb.

Ends


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