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Federal and Queensland officials have agreed after negotiations to close tuberculosis (TB) clinics in Australia's northern border region of Torres Strait.
The closure of the clinics, which operate fortnightly on the Torres Strait Islands of Saibai and Boigu, appears to signal an escalation of Australian demands for Papua New Guinea to provide adequate healthcare for its own citizens.
Tuberculosis experts fear the shutdown could lead to the infectious lung disease taking hold in vulnerable Torres Strait and Cape York Indigenous areas and the spread of deadly drug-resistant strains.
'TB is a highly infectious disease that is spreading worldwide and we are not immune,' said Professor Wronski, James Cook University's pro vice-chancellor of medicine.
Professor Wronski said Indigenous people in both Cape York and the Torres Strait were extra-susceptible to TB because of the high level of chronic disease in those communities.