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Australia supports fight against tuberculosis

The Australian government has said it is boosting support to Papua New Guinea to help it respond more effectively to tuberculosis, particularly in the Western Province.

Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles have committed a further $1.1 million dollars to help improve health services in the South Fly area of the Western Province.

“Australian support has already seen PNG make headway, and this additional funding is designed to further ramp up their capacity to treat TB cases in PNG,” said Nicola Roxon.

Australian support is enabling the recruiting of health staff to improve TB services at Daru Hospital and outreach services to villages along the South Fly coast. The purchase of a boat is currently underway to support these outreach services.

Other initiatives include:

construction of an isolation ward at Daru Hospital

a pilot incentive scheme to improve patient compliance in completing TB medication

training for community members to support TB treatment compliance in communities

training for laboratory staff in Daru in diagnosis of TB

continuing support to increase laboratory diagnostic capacity.

The Minister said that a further $631,000 would be used to temporarily support Queensland Government TB clinics in the Torres Strait while PNG’s TB capabilities in Western Province are improved, and for the continued support of the Queensland Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory.

Richard Marles said this work means the PNG nationals currently being treated for TB in Queensland’s Torres Strait clinics will be able to complete their treatment in PNG.

“The Government is working with the PNG Government to more effectively treat the number of people with TB in the South Fly District of PNG, rather than only treating those patients that can cross the Torres Strait into Queensland,” said Mr Marles.

“This will provide better longer term health outcomes for PNG residents.”

The World Health Organisation is working with the PNG government, and will conduct an independent assessment of TB services in Western Province next month.

Source: Australian government media release Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing, and Hon Richard Marles MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, 9 September


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