Resistant Tuberculosis Concerns PNG Health Authorities

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50 cases registered on daily basis in Port Moresby

By Elizabeth Miae

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 6, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, health authorities in Port Moresby are concerned about the rise in the number of tuberculosis, particularly the multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB) cases.

This case is difficult and expensive to treat because it fails to respond to the standard first-line drugs.

Patients who have this are referred to as defaulters-patients who stopped taking their treatment when first diagnosed and became resistant to the first-line of drugs.

Sister-in-charge of the 6-Mile TB clinic, Miriam Avae, said they registered more than 50 new cases a day, including defaulter cases.

"We are seeing so many defaulter cases and this is dangerous," she told reporters who were taken on a site visit to the clinic yesterday.

Patients going in for testing and treatment came from as far as Mailu in the Abau district, Central, and even from Gulf.

Avae pointed out that lack of transportation hindered their efforts to go out into communities in their catchment areas to follow up on patients who were tested positive and not gone to the clinic to get their supply of drugs.

"It’s very frustrating."

Avae’s colleague at the Badili TB clinic, Rose Mantu, reacted similarly to the current situation.

"MDR-TB ino gutpla lo PNG long wanem em bai affectim planti manmeri. Ol patient save play lo marasin save kisim (MDR-TB is not good for PNG as it will affect a lot of people. Patients who do not stick to their treatment end up with it)."

Mantu said last year they registered 265 TB cases at the clinic of which 31 were defaulter cases.

Compared to 6-Mile, Badili registered about 10 or more on a daily basis, she said.

"I’ve been working as a TB nurses for more than 10 years and I treat every patient as my own child by encouraging them to take their medication.

"When they complete their treatment and they are cured, I’m happy because I did something for the nation," Mantu said.

According to the national tuberculosis program 2012, NCD is at the top with 5,399 cases of all forms of TB, followed by Morobe with 2,483, Eastern Highlands (1,719), Madang (1,488) and Western Highlands (1,376).

Reporters were taken on a site visit to the two clinics as part of the lead up activities to the World TB Day on March 24.

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