The new 22-bed TB ward at Daru General Hospital is part of a $31 million package of support Australia is providing to help the government of PNG improve health services in one of its poorest provinces.
There will be six isolation rooms to quarantine patients in the infectious stage of TB so they do not pass the disease on to others, with a further 16 bed inpatient ward for TB patients in the convalescent stage.
The design of the ward has been assessed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as complying with international infection control standards.
The ward is one of a range of measures AusAID is supporting to help PNG fight the disease. Since implementing the support, mortality rates for drug-resistant TB in Western Province dramatically reduced from 25% to 5% last year. Detection of the disease rose by 30%.
Dr Geoff Clark, AusAID’s program director for health and HIV in Port Moresby, said treatment for TB can take from 6 to 24 months.
"When you look at the amount of time it takes for people to recover, it’s clear that any approach that is going to work must branch out into the communities where people live," Dr Clark said.
"The specialist TB facilities at Daru are a critical element of AusAID’s broader package of support."