Regional development in the Sepik: the way forward
PNG in 2016: is it the year of finding solutions?

TB spreading at 'phenomenal rate’ while govt holds back funds


A COMMUNICABLE disease expert says a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis on the Papua New Guinea island of Daru is spreading at a phenomenal rate.

Western Province are battling to keep down the numbers of tuberculosis patients on Daru.

Professor Brendan Crabb (pictured), from Australia's Burnet Institute, says more than 160 of the 15,000 people on the island have been infected - a scale that hasn't been seen before in PNG.

Prof Crabb says environmental factors including poverty, a sub-optimal health system and poor housing and nutrition have contributed to its spread, but researchers are worried a unique superbug may have developed.

"Traditionally drug-resistant strains of TB are considered to be less fit than the non-drug resistant forms - they're poor growers and poor spreaders,” Prof Crabb said.

“The concern here is that may not be the case and we need to do some work to find out if there is indeed a superbug - a drug-resistant organism that's spreading very well."

Prof Crabb says further research is needed into the Daru outbreak, but authorities need to act quickly to contain it.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta says money promised for the fight against tuberculosis must be made available.

He says the national government and the Fly River provincial governments six months ago promised US$13 million dollars to fight TB in Western, Gulf and Central provinces but are yet to pay.

Sir Mekere said the money is needed right now if the national health department, provincial health, NGOs and aid agencies are to stop the crisis spreading.

He said information from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation show that the threat from multi-drug-resistant TB in three hotspots, the National Capital District, Daru and Gulf, is a matter of great national concern.

He saids the TB problem in Daru is unprecedented and that the government should put the people first, not promote itself through showpiece events, such as the Pacific Games and APEC, and infrastructure projects like Paga Hill.


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Paul Oates

This calamity has all the hallmarks of what has to be recognised as the real disease. A disease so insidious that no one in power dares mention it.

This disease has been growing in malevolence for decades through a total refusal by those in charge to confront the obvious cause.

Everyone knows the answer to the problem and the remedy is well known. Yet no one can apparently bring themselves to confront why nothing constructive is being done.

The real disease is not TB. The inability to address this form of TB is only the symptom. The real disease is the inability of the relevant authorities and those responsible to act and act decisively.

No one in power dares ask 'Why is it so'? That is because everyone really knows the answer.

There is an old fable called the 'The Emperor’s new clothes'.

In that fable, the Emperor was introduced to a magical tailor who claimed he could make the best clothes in the world. The Emperor wanted the best of everything so he ordered a suit of clothes from this tailor. The tailor pretended to make an imaginary set of clothes and put them on the naked Emperor. No one dared say what they really saw when the Emperor walked around naked in his imaginary suit. Everyone commented on how the Emperor looked so wonderful including and most importantly, the Emperor’s closest advisers.

Then a simple child said: “Look, the Emperor has no clothes!” then everyone had to agree.

So with the simplicity of a child, let’s simply identify the problem. Those in charge and those responsible clearly cannot and will not act and behave in a responsible manner and do what they are paid to do. Those leaders who just accept this malaise are just as guilty as those who can’t bring themselves to do what they are being paid for.

An Australian news documentary traveled to Daru some time ago and filmed documentary proof how those with the disease were not being treated effectively and the authorities were not in control.

Why is it so? Because no one is responding to the voice of reality. That indictment includes the Australian and Queensland governments who just as guilty by washing their hands of the problem as the PNG government and Health Department Minister and staff are in allowing this situation continue.

Perhaps the only answer is a traditional ‘No9 boot, applied in the most efficacious manner?’

Michael Dom

Ahh, Penge!

Same old, same speed, eh laka.

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