World Bank, Australia Make Major Investment To Support Fight Against TB In PNG

31,000 new cases of tuberculosis reported yearly resulting in 3,000 deaths

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 2, 2017) – The World Bank has approved a credit of US$15 million – about K48 million – to support ongoing efforts in Papua New Guinea to combat the growing tuberculosis epidemic.

The bank-sanctioned Emergency Tuberculosis Project will bolster early detection programs already underway, strengthen the treatment of patients suffering from drug resistant tuberculosis, and shore up the capacity of health-care agencies to identify potential cases in key hotspots and deliver effective treatment, in order to improve case management for both medical staff and patients.

The aid comes as international stakeholders wait for a government commitment to inject K50 million [US$15.4 million] to fight TB hotspots in the National Capital District, Gulf Province and Western Province

The Australian government will match the World Bank’s investment with a grant of US$15 million (K48m) to support the fight against TB in PNG.

The World Bank Group has significantly scaled up its work in PNG in recent years and is committed to continuing this support for the long term.

Health Minister Michael Malabag yesterday welcomed the World Bank’s K48 million to eliminate the disease, notably drug-resistant tuberculosis.

“I have had initial discussions with World Bank representatives previously, so I am happy with this strong show of support by the World Bank to complement government efforts in the fight against TB. I have also highlighted this issue at WHO and World Health Assembly meetings which I have chaired in the Philippines, Guam and Switzerland.”

Mr Malabag, on the campaign trail to retain his Moresby Northwest seat, said the Health Department had stepped up efforts to monitor, control and stop the spread of TB with more isolation Wards to be built in both Gulf and Western provinces.

“The Government of PNG recognises the seriousness of the TB situation in the country, and we have been working with development partners to plan a scaled-up response,” Mr Malabag said of the approval by the World Bank’s board of executive directors on Wednesday. “This World Bank project will be crucial for our efforts to combat this epidemic, utilising a co-ordinated approach to help control the spread of TB.”

About 31,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported each year – resulting in more than 3000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization – PNG’s healthcare system has struggled to cope with the epidemic. Drug-resistant TB is a particular concern for PNG and the region. “TB is a silent killer, hitting the poorest Papua New Guineans the hardest,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, the World Bank’s country manager for Papua New Guinea. “By boosting early detection programs, this project will save lives and provide much-needed support to health workers across PNG who are fighting this epidemic every day.”

PNG Post-Courier
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