29 Mar 2004

Action need to fight TB epidemic in Papua New Guinea

7:08 am on 29 March 2004

A World Health Organisation official in Papua New Guinea says the Government is not doing enough to fight tuberculosis, which is rife in the capital city.

Dr Erwin Cooreman, a WHO medical officer in Port Moresby, says overcrowding and poor hygiene, have helped the city to have one of the highest infections rates in the world.

He says 3000 people - or one percent of the city's population - are known to be infected and it's time the Government was more proactive about it.

Dr Cooreman says the directly observed treatment short-course programme or DOTS, introduced into the country eight years ago, had done little to reduce the number of TB cases.

"The results show that not enough is done so I think they should certainly increase their input in this programme to make it successful. My suggestion would be to reinforce the programme, to have a proper management structure in place with some full time people in charge of this TB control programme for the city."

He says TB is a growing problem in the coastal areas and is now spreading to Highlands.

PNG is one of seven countries in the Western Pacific with high infection rates.