Fighting TB in PNG
PNG is in the top 20 globally in terms of the rate of TB per head of population.
This is according to Dr Ann Clark and her team at the Business for Health network – that is geared towards raising awareness and addressing the growing TB crisis in PNG.
Due to a poor diagnostics system, PNG is among the top 20 in drug resistant which occurs when drug-susceptible TB patients do not receive the correct treatment regimens or do not complete the full course of treatment.
“We don’t have a TB problem, we have a TB crisis!” Dr Ann said.
Papua New Guinea has some of the highest rates of TB disease in the world, increasing incidence of drug resistant TB, and inadequate healthcare services. Among infectious diseases, TB is the leading cause of premature death in Papua New Guinea.
The impact on businesses and the private sector in PNG is an increasing concern, as the highest rates of transmission are observed in the economically productive age group of 15 to 45 years residing in urban areas. The World Health Organisation estimates that an employee with TB can lose an average of 3 to 4 months of work and income, resulting in potential losses of 20 to 30 percent in annual household income.
Building on the success of PNG Businesses Against HIV and AIDS (BAHA), the goal of B4H is to increase workers' access to TB education, detection. treatment and prevention services through workplace TB programs, through:
· Delivering cost-effective technical assistance to businesses
· Mobilising the private sector to actively engage in the national TB effort
· Establishing a sustainable business model for continuing to deliver services following seed funding from the Australian Government.
The program has made much progress involving businesses in early active case finding, which in turn helps firms ensure they are less impacted and employees continue to have job security for their families.
The program has helped many companies access diagnostic and TB services that are in line with World Health Organisation’s standards.
Business for Health has trained TB Wardens in companies who have joined the fight agains TB. The Wardens are responsible for their company’s early case finding and ensuring support in addressing TB that in turn contributes to economic security for business houses and job security for employees.
The program has now trained more than 200 TB Wardens.
Dr Ann said a National TB Register is important for a coordinated national response.
PNG has an average of 3000 deaths per year, due to TB.