By Vasinatta Yama, EM TV – Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea is facing a public health emergency with the rapid rise in Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis or XDR-TB.
XDR-TB is a form of Tuberculosis caused by bacteria that are resistant to some of the most effective anti-TB drugs.
These details were released by the National Department of Health today.
In just three years, Tuberculosis has infected more people and killed almost many Papua New Guineans as Ebola, globally.
Last year, 31,000 people fell ill, and 3,000 men, women, and children died.
With TB hotspots in Western, Gulf, NCD and Central Provinces, it is likely to be present in other populated centres.
Currently, Daru is the epicentre of drug-resistant TB in PNG, including some of the highest rates in the world.
With no proper ventilation in crowded settlements, NCD and Central Provinces are the next most important and visible TB hotspots.
In a recent annual report released by the TB Emergency Response Team, 70 per cent of TB cases are from urban areas.
Preventative measures are required for Health Department and NGO’s to implement and well supervise ‘Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course’ or DOTS.
DOTS is the name given to TB control strategy, recommended by the World Health Organisation.
However, to implement DOTS, it needs financial support from all levels of government, and the qualified professionals to understand and implement it.
The TB Response Team is facing challenges that have affected their planned activities and performances to control XDR-TB. They challenges are;
- Lack of funding although it was committed to them,
- Lack of accountability at all levels,
- Poor basic DOTS implementation
- Functional MDR-TB models of care not yet established and
- Weak laboratory capacity.
The challenge now is to address Drug-Resistant –TB in a comprehensive manner, so that Multi-Drug Resistant –TB will be the dominant strain of TB for a short period of time.