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Official Silence On TB Unacceptable

Media Release

6 October 2008

Official Silence On TB Unacceptable

Continuing official silence about the case of highly infectious TB discovered in Auckland is unacceptable, says New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“What we know is that so far one person has died and another was hospitalised for weeks. In spite of the second woman’s best attempts to convince hospital staff that she might have something more sinister than pneumonia she was not taken seriously until she left hospital and went to a public nurse.

“The Auckland District Health Board is now refusing to answer any questions relating to this particular case and the Regional Public Health Service has also been ordered to keep quiet.

“When questioned the Minister of Health passed the buck back to the DHB. Now that Parliament has risen the Minister cannot be asked any further awkward parliamentary questions but this should not be used as a way of avoiding the issue.

“The public is entitled to know what is being done to protect them and to be assured that measures have been taken to ensure this cannot happen again. A news blackout is not acceptable when public health has been threatened as it has in this case.

“What makes this case even more disturbing is that in 2005 a South Korean tourist was flown home on a charter flight after three months in hospital because she also had extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis and was untreatable and highly infectious. In that case the public was also kept in the dark.

“The Minister and the Auckland District Health Board must front up as soon as possible with details of exactly how they are dealing with this latest threat to public health,” said Mrs Stewart.


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