IN AN article for online publication The Conversation, Cameron Wright likens the spread of tuberculosis in Mongolia to the reign of the nation’s 12th century warlord Genghis Khan.
“This invader, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, favours stealth over force,” he writes. “The disease that it causes, tuberculosis (TB), has endured from ancient times into the 21st century.
“TB disproportionately affects the world’s vulnerable, with over 95 per cent of active cases and deaths caused by TB occurring in developing countries.
“The World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent Global TB Report estimated that in 2011 there were 8.7 million new TB cases and each day, the disease claims around 4,000 lives.
“For a disease that is treatable and curable, these statistics are alarming.”
The 24-year-old Greenfields resident and Youth Ambassador for Development currently resides in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where he works as a Public Health Project Officer for the Mongolian Anti-Tuberculosis Association (MATA).
Since he flew to Mongolia in March this year, he has teamed up with various national and international health organisations, including WHO and World Vision Mongolia, to help combat TB and raise awareness of the MATA’s work worldwide.
“Mongolia has a high burden of TB relative to its population,” he said.
“[The MATA] coordinates the provision of anti-TB medications, mainly targeting people unable to visit health clinics regularly.
“Our volunteers are fantastic and the results of the program really are impressive.
And, he says, the MATA’s work is not dissimilar from community programs in his hometown.
“My mum, Helen, is a nurse at Peel Health Campus; I remember going around with her when I was younger when she helped with the 'Meals on Wheels' program.
“This and other programs in Mandurah share many similarities with the MATA's work here in Mongolia.
“Empowering people to take ownership of their health is an effective way to improve health and build stronger communities, this concept is as applicable in Mandurah as it is in Ulaanbaatar.”
Mr Wright said his plans post-Mongolia are “still evolving”, but hopes to secure a future in the public health sector when he returns in March next year.
“It will also be good to see my family and friends.” he said.