WHO: Quick response needed for TB epidemic

Tuberculosis (TB) remains an emergency problem in Papua New Guinea and the Government needs to act quickly to address the issue and take control of the drug resistant TB epidemic.

TB Taskforce and Emergency Response Committee member and World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr Pieter van Maaren said that TB is a time bomb waiting to go off.

Maaren said that TB and multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR TB) in particular is an area that needs to be addressed as the country is going to face major problems if we can’t get the message across.

He said a high proportion of the population is already infected with the disease.

“If we don’t address the problem as it is at the moment, not very long from now, there will be TB in every family and every workplace and this is something that the country cannot afford,” Maaren said.

Maaren stressed that it will have major consequences on the economic development as well.

“All those suffering from TB will no longer be able to participate in the economic process to create wealth and prosperity for PNG.

“Tourists will stay away because they’re aware of the fact that PNG is a country that you can get infected with TB.

“So there’re many reasons why we should be tackling this problem on a very vigorous manner,” he said.

Maaren commended the Regional Green Light Committee (RGLC) that was in the country this week to look at what PNG has been doing so far in the past two years since it was first declared an emergency.

The committee will be giving recommendations and the way forward in addressing this TB epidemic and even more vigorous then what they’ve been doing so far.

Quintina Naime