PNG looks to World Bank for gear to combat TB

1:36 pm on 26 January 2017

Papua New Guinea's government is looking to engage more World Bank assistance to deploy equipment for laboratory testing and screening for tuberculosis (TB).

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill (second from left) meets with World Bank officials, from left: Anne Tully (Country Program Coordinator); Michael Kerf (Country Director); and Andrew Cooper (Senior Operations Officer)

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill (second from left) meets with World Bank officials, from left: Anne Tully (Country Program Coordinator); Michael Kerf (Country Director); and Andrew Cooper (Senior Operations Officer) Photo: PNG PM Media Office

PNG has struggled in recent years to overcome its TB epidemic, with tens of thousands of people infected with multi-drug resistant strains of the disease.

The World Bank has been helping PNG with its fight against tuberculosis in affected areas such as Western and Gulf provinces, and is set to increase its assistance.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill met with the World Bank Country Director for PNG, Michael Kerf, and other representatives of the bank this week in Port Moresby.

Mr O'Neill said he appreciated the ongoing help from the World Bank in working with his government to build infrastructure in both combating and treating TB.

He said this was in line with government plans to establish isolation wards servicing Daru and Kerema (provincial capitals of Western and Gulf).

"While we have already identified the demountable buildings for use on these sites, World Bank support will enhance this program," said Mr O'Neill.

"The World Bank is further interested in supporting the purchase of drugs, and education so that people know how to properly use their medication."

With PNG health services still limited, the World Health Organisation last year said work was being done to target multi-drug resistant TB, but that it would take up to a decade to successfully confront the problem.

"TB continues to be a challenge and while we having successes, there is the ongoing risk of spread and lack of understanding in potentially affected areas," the Prime Minister said.

He said the World Bank was working with the Health Department and other partners to ensure there was no duplication, and that TB eradication efforts were effectively focused.

The proposed TB programme is just one of a series of development projects that the World Bank is funding in PNG.

The World Bank's website says it has 9 active projects in Papua New Guinea worth around US$300 million.

These projects focus on gender equality, telecommunications, gender-based violence, infrastructure, agriculture, electricity and energy.

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