by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organisation working nearly in 70 countries assisting people in need of health services.
From their research, results have shown that Gulf province is exposed to high TB rates with few cases of drug resistant TB in the province.
Seeing the poor health services in the province, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have commenced their service in the province to assist the locals with the fight againt this contagious disease.
In the mid-year (2014), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) travelled to the province. The journey of the organisation has witnessed many contributing factors as to how the locals were potentially contributing to increasing the contagious disease.
Amongst many, geographical conditions of the province, surrounded by sea, large swamps and lakes, have limited the development of important services like health, education and connecting roads to all different villages and communities.
Though the province has some of these services available, the problem of boosting their function has been given little attention and a result, some of the services are very poor.
According to MSF project coordinator Cyrus Paye, “when MSF arrived in Kerema in mid-2014, we found that infection control in the hospital was completely out of control”. The volunteers started their planned work as how they have been operating in other centres, to restore the poor services in the Kerema General Hospital. New laboratory equipment were set, a GeneXpert diagnostic machine and a new TB ward was constructed.
Combined with the local health authorities, the volunteers implemented a TB Clinic, with proper equipment’s to control and monitor the flow of patients daily, most importantly the one with TB. The GeneXpert diagnostic machine helps to identify and facilitate the TB patients towards prompt TB treatment. The machine also helps to cut down the delays in TB test results, where access is really a challenge in the province.
According to MSF Head of Mission Benjamin Gaudin, “the objective (GeneXpert diagnostic machine) is to improve considerably the diagnostic capacity in order to be able to start treatment very quickly”.
The new TB ward after completion will have 18 inpatients beds to cater for all TB patients from the rest of the hospitalised patients and also to monitor the infectious disease. With difficult geographical conditions, the only available vehicle to bringing equipment and patients from other centres to the main general hospital was the small quad-copters unmanned aerial vehicles. This helps to transport sputum samples of each suspected patient from surrounding remote centres to Kerema general hospital for further testing and tranSport back the results with the treatments to the diagnosed patients.
As it is the trial phase of the project in the province and for the organisation in the country, MSF is planning to expand its services to other parts of the country once the progress in Kerema goes in full capacity. Gaudin says ‘MSF’s objective over the five years is to create a TB program that is replicable and sustainable’. The goal is to support PNG’s health authorities, and by setting a trial project and effective measure in Kerema, producing good outcomes can also reach out to other parts of the country.