The National, Monday November 4th, 2013
THE Southern Highlands provincial disease control officer Albert Paligo and Dr Emmanuel Andrew, who is the medical officer in charge of HIV, STI and emergency services of the Mendi General Hospital, have returned from the recent national TB and HIV collaboration meeting in Madang after presenting its provincial data.
SHP is considered as one of the nine high burden provinces.
There are four NGO groups – World Vision, Oil Search Health Foundation, Catholic Health Services and Clinton Foundation – complementing the ailing health service in providing health care to TB and HIV patients.
According to Clinton Foundation and Mendi hospital records, there are 429 patients currently on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
Thirty three of them were diagnosed with TB and commenced on TB treatment.
A further 133 patients are currently isoniazid prophylaxis therapy to avoid TB in the future.
According to Dr Andrew, TB is a big issue in Southern Highlands.
Every two in 20 medical admission is TB in the form of pulmonary or extra-pulmonary.
Of those who are commenced on anti-TB drugs, 5% are non-compliant and default their treatment despite enormous amount of education given by the under-strength staff on the ground.
Poor socioeconomic status and inaccessibility to road, phone and health facilities were found to be contributing factors for patients to default.
Patients cannot follow up at their villages because there is poor logistical support from appropriate authorities such as the Southern Highlands provincial health office.
It was observed at the national TB and HIV collaboration meeting in Madang that all the other provinces are doing well.
Our neighbour Western Highlands province is leading the way.
The TB programme in Simbu province is fully supported by Governor Noah Kool with a brand new Land Cruiser and K100,000, thus, making the job of the provincial disease controller and the medical officer easy to reach all its districts.
The Southern Highlands team had nothing positive to discuss so we were sitting quietly in shame after their data presentation.
Dr Andrew said as a local boy from Mendi, he wish he had full logistical and financial backing to effectively rollout the TB programme and Provider Initiated Testing and Counselling (PICT) across Southern Highlands province and make a difference to improve our poor health statistics.
The MPs can assist in this regard rather than giving money to individual supporter that will not make any impact in our community.
Dr Emmanuel Andrew, Via email