HEALTH officials have been accused of not doing enough to prevent an outbreak of a mutant strain of the killer lung disease tuberculosis spreading into north Queensland.But health authorities claim there is little to worry about.
The Courier-Mail last Friday revealed one of Australia's first cases of mutated XDR-TB (Extensively Drug-Resistant TB) in a Papua New Guinean, Catherine Abraham, 20, being treated in isolation at Cairns Base Hospital.
Experts warn she is the first in a wave before the highly contagious, incurable, untreatable form of TB spreads.
But Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young last Friday played down the immediate threat.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg's office said that despite being an international matter, the Commonwealth did not fully fund health services to PNG nationals.
The disagreement means Queensland must accept a project agreement by June or risk losing $8.1 million in Commonwealth funding.
Senate Estimates heard on Thursday that of AusAID's $104 million allocation to the PNG health sector, only $5.8 million was for programs relating to tuberculosis, of which PNG has the world's highest infection rate.
Opposition Parliamentary Secretary Teresa Gambaro said: "PNG is our nearest neighbour we need to be doing more."