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Papua New Guinea

TB crisis looms

BY BARNEY ORERE

borere@spp.com.pg

WE NOW have a major health crisis waiting to explode, with deadly tuberculosis on the prowl that is akin to the HIV/AIDS scare of 10 years ago.

Since TB is an airborne infection it can be easily transmitted and that’s what makes this threat deadly serious. Last year, there were more than 35,000 TB cases nationwide. In the National Capital District alone there are now 6000 cases.

The startling revelations were made on last Wednesday night by Dr Ann Clarke, project manager, Businesses for Health Papua New Guinea (B4H) while receiving a cash donation of K10,000 from law firm, Ashurst in Port Moresby.

The firm will donate K10,000 every year for the next four years to fight the disease at the workplace.

“We now have a ‘worst on planet’ TB crisis in PNG,” Dr Clarke told members of the legal fraternity, associates and clients who gathered to commemorate Ashurt’s beginning in a new office setting, the Pacific Place downtown.

TB has been in the news for sometime but perhaps a major announcement of some sort can be expected as to what the response is going to be. To underpin the seriousness of the situation we will expound on Dr Clarke revelations in a feature next week.

History shows that when HIV/AIDS first reared its ugly head in 1987, it took the government 10 years to come up with a response. What we have on our hands now is that; unlike HIV/AIDS which is spread through sexual contact, the TB threat is more potent as all it takes is a cough or a sneeze from an infected person, and poverty is TB’s greatest ally.

The TB rise in drug-resistant TB was first highlighted nearly two years ago by Newton Orowari of the Anglican Health Service based at Dogura in Milne Bay Province. Mr Orowari said then the change of policy from cure to prevention was responsible for the closure of aid posts in Alotau district.

PNG ranks in the top 20 for rates of drug resistant TB and HIV co-infection.

If you are HIV positive you are most likely to die for TB.

The mission of B4H is to engage every workplace in TB prevention, early TB case finding and supporting employees to complete treatment.

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