21 Mar 2007

TB infection rates in PNG reach 50 percent

3:55 pm on 21 March 2007

It is estimated tuberculosis has infected 50 percent of Papua New Guinea's population and it is spreading.

The Post Courier newspaper reports this means people with the TB bacteria would become sick when their immune system weakens.

The World Health Organisation says more than 20,000 of the people are suffering from the disease already.

The Global Fund for TB, malaria and AIDS has allocated just over 20 million US dollars for the next five years to help PNG in its fight against TB.

The WHO says the money, which will not be released until after the election in June, could be withdrawn if PNG did not adhere to the requirements laid down by the Fund.

The national government with technical help from WHO has developed a five year strategic plan to stop TB with a specific aim of addressing TB-HIV co-infection.

However, because of the delay in the release of the GF funds, AusAID is funding an interim programme.

It will cover awareness, the purchase of microscopes, and improvements to the treatment programmes including expanding the community-based Direct Observed Treatment Strategy networks.