Senator McLucas inspects TB progress in Daru
03 October, 2012
Senator McLucas and Dr Smith at the Daru Laboratory. Photo: AusAID.
Senator McLucas is shown the land where the new TB ward will be built. Photo: AusAID.
The Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, visited Daru to inspect the progress of Australia’s program to help the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government treat tuberculosis (TB) in Western Province, PNG.
Senator McLucas is in PNG to attend the Pacific Islands Forum Disability Ministers Meeting in Port Moresby.
Australia has committed A$11 million (PGK23 million) over four years to improve health infrastructure, treatment and public awareness of TB in Western Province.
Senator McLucas said supporting the Government of PNG to address the problem of TB in Western Province is the right thing to do and that Australia is doing so in a targeted and cost-effective way.
A total of 92 patients have been transferred from Queensland to PNG health services. Of these 65 patients have completed their treatment and 27 continue their treatment. Senator McLucas commented on the significant improvement in patient outcomes with the mortality of patients suffering from TB falling from 25 per cent to just under 5 per cent in a year.
The AusAID-funded sea ambulance is conducting outreach visits along the South Fly coast on a monthly basis and medical evacuations as required. Senator McLucas personally reviewed the sea ambulance and heard from Western Province health staff about how vital the vessel is to improving health services to communities along the South Fly coast including treaty villages.
Since the Stop TB in Western Province Program commenced in February this year the number of patients commencing first line drug treatment has almost doubled. This improvement in diagnostic capacity is as a direct result of AusAID’s support and the dedication of the Western Province health staff.
Community outreach and advocacy activities are progressing well, with 21 community health workers and 35 volunteers providing Directly Observed Treatment (DOTS) to TB patients in Daru and the South Fly coast of Western Province.
DOTS is the World Health Organization endorsed protocol for TB control and has been proven to work. It ensures TB patients stay on their medication for the full course, which helps to prevent the emergence of drug resistance.
The new x-Ray and GeneXpert machine, which can identify some drug resistant strains of TB within two hours, have substantially improved diagnostics services at Daru General Hospital. And a new TB ward is on track to be completed by March 2013, with AusAID support.
While health service delivery in PNG is ultimately the responsibility of the Government of PNG, Senator McLucas said that she could report that Australia’s partnership in supporting the Government of PNG to address the issue of TB is making a very positive difference.
Media release: Senator McLucas inspects TB progress in Daru [external link]
Media release: Improving the lives of people with disability in the Pacific [external link]
AusAID at work in Papua New Guinea
Last Reviewed: 3 October, 2012