B4H: Businesses Called to Combat TB in PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe April 22, 2024

left to right: Rosemary Botong, GM PNG FM announces the launch of the new TB campaign in association with Businesses for Health: TB & HIV project with Dr Ann Clarke at an event launch supported by SP Brewery

Business for Health (B4H) is leading the battle against tuberculosis or TB, urging all businesses in Papua New Guinea to join their campaign this year.

The renewed commitment to ending the disease marked on TB Day continues, as the group released updates to TB learning resources and maintained conversations through radio, theatre, and storytelling, with short stories based on real success stories, which are available for sharing.

Collaborating with PNG FM Radio, B4H launched an "End TB" radio campaign to educate audiences and combat stigma over the disease, as it crafted messages to encourage early detection and highlight free testing and treatment services.

Dr. Ann Clarke, B4H founder, explains: “Our partnership with PNG FM is crucial in promoting the message that TB, although it is the leading infectious disease killer in the country, is curable. With accurate information, support from loved ones, and access to free effective treatment, the disease can be managed, and people can be cured.”

“The new messages build on our previous ‘cover your cough’ disease prevention message generously supported by PNG FM,” Dr. Clarke added.

Part of the B4H campaign includes a 3-day workshop for businesses to participate in, dedicated to combating TB especially in the workplace and among workforce families.

Ms. Rosemary Botong, the General Manager of PNG FM, reiterated the significance of supporting B4H in the nationwide awareness on TB at an event hosted by SP Brewery on the 10th of April.

“With the National Department of Health reporting over 5,000 deaths and more than 44,000 new cases of TB last year, including drug-resistant strains and TB/HIV co-infections, we cannot overlook this significant social issue. Notably, children make up a quarter of all new cases,” Ms. Botong said.

“Radio, with its profound penetration into the daily lives of people across all demographics in Papua New Guinea, serves as a powerful medium for this critical health messaging,” she added.

The creative teams from B4H and PNG FM have crafted six messages based on true stories, including children affected by TB.

“By broadcasting messages that emphasize treatment success and the accessibility of free services, we’re not just spreading knowledge; we’re extending a lifeline to those in need,” Ms. Botong added.

Ms. Teresa Koratsi, TB case coordinator at B4H, said two of her children and B4H staff are featured in the radio campaign.

The partnership emphasizes TB's curability with accurate information and support, as the campaign aligns with the national anti-tuberculosis program and aims to save lives, reduce workforce productivity costs, and improve overall social and economic health.

Listeners are directed to the Businesses for Health website for TB clinic information and encouraged to use the Telikom TB toll-free information line at 7676 2482.

While the challenge ahead is formidable, Dr. Clarke stressed that it is not impossible to overcome.

“With persistent calls for accountability and collective action from the business and private sector, B4H and businesses can build a more productive workforce and ultimately eradicate TB in PNG,” she said.

In 2024, tuberculosis remains PNG's leading cause of death from an infectious disease. Therefore, B4H is appealing to the private sector and businesses for ongoing support.

Since its establishment in 2017, the Businesses for Health: TB and HIV project has made significant strides in mitigating the impact of these diseases through workplace education efforts. Despite the increasing burden of TB on PNG's economy, the effort has preserved lives and jobs.

However, the reality on the ground falls short of B4H’s ambitions, with an expected 5,000 TB deaths and at least 40,000 new TB cases this year alone, Dr. Clarke noted.

“We celebrate the ongoing support from many businesses in PNG's private sector. Together, we've led awareness campaigns and saved lives despite setbacks caused by COVID-19 and nationwide social and economic challenges,” she said.

Through the B4H "End TB" radio campaign, TB messages are broadcast across PNG in both English and Tok Pidgin, engaging communities and encouraging early detection and treatment.

“Together, #YesWeCanEndTB. Let's continue our efforts to cover your cough and prevent the spread of TB, saving lives and building a healthier future for all,” Dr. Clarke added.

Here's how businesses can get involved, per Dr. Clarke:

1. Invest in B4H workplace TB training to cultivate a health-seeking culture and implement comprehensive TB management programs within your business. Sign up now for workshops in June and September by emailing lorrie@businesses4health.com.

2. Partner with B4H to amplify efforts in ending TB. Whether through financial support, in-kind contributions, or expertise sharing, your involvement is crucial in improving access to TB information and services. Contact annmclarke@businesses4health.com to get involved.

3. Leverage your influence to advocate for improved healthcare policies and infrastructure. Encourage government action to address the root causes of TB, such as poverty and inadequate housing. Reach out to your MP, the PM, and Health Minister to drive sustainable change.

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