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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Government Invests in High Quality Laboratory for Detection of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis here in PNG

Eric Bilo performing a test at the CPHL
By Jacob Marcos
NDoH-Journalist

The National Department of Health (NDoH), in commemoration of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, is launching the country’s first laboratory for drug susceptibility testing, enabling in-country detection of drug-resistant tuberculosis instead of outsourcing the same offshore.

Saliva samples will be collect from patients suspected of contracting TB for appropriate treatment.

The Central Public Health Laboratory at 3 mile, Port Moresby is the host of the significant event today while Daru in Western Province host the official launching of the World TB day in the country.

Daru, the place known for its recent TB outbreak in the country, today marks a significant day for its outstanding record in curbing TB with much needed supports from non-government organizations like Oil Search, Medicine San Frontiers (MSF) and church partners so the small township deserves all the reasons to be the host of the country.

A strong advocate of TB in the NDoH led by Deputy Secretary National Health Standard Service, Paison Dakulala are initiating the world event in the small town for the first time under the promising World TB Day theme: “Unite to End TB”.

“Firstly, I feel for those who have been affected by TB and I take this time to remember those who have lost their lives to TB,” NDoH Secretary Pascoe Kase lamented.

“I am very humbled to declare that this is a historical moment for the people of Papua New Guinea (PNG),” Kase said.

“It marks a giant step for the public health sector in terms of greater in-house capacity for drug susceptibility testing and culture. These are essential components of TB control particularly for diagnosing and for monitoring the progress of TB treatment,” he said.

“TB remains a major public health threat in PNG and it kills more adults than any other infectious disease,” he said adding that the World Health Organization (WHO), rated PNG as the highest in the Western Pacific Region and tenth highest globally.

“This is compounded by the emergence of drug-resistant TB, which is harder and more expensive to treat. This kind of TB requires stronger medication and longer treatment period, around two years, compared with primary TB which requires around six months of treatment,” Kase said.

Early diagnosis of TB, especially drug-resistant TB, paves the way for timely TB treatment, hence reduction in transmission of the disease, he said.

“As there are high costs and long delays associated with outsourcing drug sensitivity testing, this new laboratory will save the government much needed resources that would allow government to direct resources to the treatment and care of people diagnosed with primary and drug-resistant TB,” Kase added.

Cost for outsourcing drug sensitivity testing is pegged at around K860 per sputum sample and an additional K250 for transporting around 35 sputum samples to a laboratory in Brisbane, Australia.

“This is a relief for the country and I am adamant that TB will be gradually decreased in the country as we vigorously fight the disease,” he said.

Director of the Central Public Health Laboratory, Evelyn Lavu, said that work on the PC3 laboratory started in April 2014 and was completed in March 2016 following WHO guidelines and international standards.

“MSF assisted in purchasing the vital equipment needed in the PC-3 TB laboratory,” Dr Lavu said.

The County Director of World Vision PNG, Heather MacLeod, has commended the government for investing in the PC3 Laboratory.

“Such an initiative strengthens the health systems offering longer term solutions and hence contribute to the country’s sustained development,” Ms Heather said.

WHO, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australian Government, MSF and World Vision have been instrumental in supporting the government’s initiatives that strengthen laboratory diagnosis in the country.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 3:17 AM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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