Australia reports approximately 1300 cases of TB per year and has a TB case notification rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 population. This rate has essentially remained unchanged since the mid-1980s, however a slight increase in rates has been observed since 2003.
Tuberculosis is a notifiable disease in all Australian jurisdictions and as such, each jurisdiction collects a minimum dataset on each TB patient. These data are regularly transferred to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, which is maintained by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Based on these data, the National TB Advisory Committee produces annual reports which describe the epidemiology of TB in the Australian population. While these reports are useful for informing policy and practice, the current reports do not critically assess a comprehensive range of risk factors that may be addressed in order to optimise TB prevention and care in the Australian context These risk factors include variables such as cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, homelessness and recent travel (in the past 2-5 years) to a TB endemic (>40/100 000 population) country. Current annual reports also do not consider individual risk profiles or individuals who have multiple risk factors.
The majority of the Australian TB patient population are born overseas and it is likely that many acquired TB while living in countries with a high incidence of TB, outside of Australia. Consistent with the Framework Towards TB Elimination in Low-incidence Countries, the TB response in Australia needs to take this into account and design tailored interventions that are based on comprehensive data.
Against the backdrop of the newly launched End TB Strategy, the Framework Towards TB Elimination in Low Incidence Countries and The Strategic Pan for Control of Tuberculosis in Australia, 2016-2020 – Towards Disease Elimination (currently under development), careful consideration of additional data is required to “know the local epidemic”, and plan better-targeted public health interventions designed to prevent, detect and manage TB, and guide efforts towards TB elimination
Therefore, the aim of this study is to collect detailed data regarding the risk factors profile and treatment outcomes of a representative sample of individual patients with TB. The study will use a survey methodology to collect detailed information on TB risk factors for approximately 700 TB patients. The study will equip Australian policy makers, clinicians and researchers with the knowledge required to develop targeted TB elimination policies and practices in Australia.