14,000 TB cases reported annually

National, Normal


POOR case managements and failure by tuberculosis (TB) patients to adhere to medical prescriptions are making multi-drug resistance (MDR) a big concern in the fight against the disease.
“MDR is posing a growing problem to the Health Department and its stakeholders,” provincial TB worker Stella Rumbam said in her remarks at a World TB Day conference in Lae International Hotel last Thursday.
She said MDR was the result of the TB bacteria “making friends” with the drugs consumed by patients.
“This is due to poor case managements and the result of patients not adhering to his or her medication.
“The treatment is long, between six and eight months. TB patients tend to fall short of the urgency of treatment because they decide that they are better or because they become too lazy to continue their treatment,” she said.
Mrs Rumbam said this was a challenge to health workers and a threat to the nation because there were no drugs available to treat patients who developed MDR.
“Lae alone currently has 23 patients who are believed to have developed a resistance to their medication.
“Three of them are confirmed MDR cases,” she said.
Mrs Rumbam said it was vital that patients took their drugs regularly to avoid developing MDR.
The conference also revealed some frightening figures of TB in the country.
It was stated that TB was the third leading cause of health infection in PNG, with about 14,000 people affected every year.
Morobe province has the second highest number of TB infections, after the National Capital District.
PNG also has the second highest number of people affected by TB in the world, after Cambodia.
Mrs Rumbam said a new approach should be developed to address TB in the next decade.