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October 24, 2019
Emergency Featured Health News

TB Drug Shortage in Western Highlands

By Vasinatta Yama – EMTV News, Mt Hagen

Mt Hagen General Hospital has run out of TB drugs and hospital staff says more patients will develop multi-drug resistant TB if the shortage is not resolved immediately.

Some patients have also pleaded the National Health Department to send the drug supplies as quickly as possible.

Patients, who turned up at the TB department this morning to get their daily doses, found out that the hospital had no drugs left to give them.

A TB patient, Philipus Jimi, expressed his frustration to EMTV News, said “I have now missed my daily dose. If I can’t get my medication here, where else can I go now to get it?”.

The last lot of supplies finished last week.

Those who came today were told they will not be supplied any drugs. This includes others who are scheduled for the other days as well.

For a TB patient, any break in treatment has serious consequences.  If a patient misses one day of treatment,  they will develop multi-drug resistant or MDR TB – the kind seen in the Western Province.

The hospital is currently treating eight MDR patients, apart from patients with normal TB. Two have died recently.

“We’re hearing that a lot of health facilities are running out of TB drugs. Kudjip, Kundiawa, Goroka, Mendi, Wabag and Mt Hagen do not have these drugs. What is going on? Can the government please make this a priority” said another TB patient, Michael Aris.

Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority has looked elsewhere to get some drugs but has so far been unsuccessful.  Hospitals in other Highlands Provinces are facing the same problem.

Patients are pleading to the national government to address this issue.

“How many lives are going to be lost, they are talking about APEC and millions of kina being spent on transport and all these things but what about the very lives of the ordinary Papua New Guineans which we cannot afford to buy our own medications,” said another frustrated TB patient, John Gulda.

The hospital does not know when their new stock will arrive.

The multi-drug resistant TB drug is very expensive and currently, it is being bought by donors and given to hospitals.

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