The National – Wednesday, June 29, 2011
AN Australian MP has said Queensland Health workers in the Torres Strait have told him they will continue treating Papua New Guinea nationals for tuberculosis despite the end of Commonwealth funding for clinics.
The Australian Government said from this week, it would shift its focus to funding health services on
the ground in PNG through Australian aid agency, AusAID.
Federal member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said the decision to wind up tuberculosis clinics for PNG visitors to the Torres Strait should be reversed.
Entsch said health workers in the Torres Strait had told him PNG patients, with the potentially deadly disease, were still turning up daily for treatment.
He said it would stretch resources but the workers would treat those that needed assistance.
“They will not turn away people who are in need or people that are dying – they will not do it and they have made that very, very clear to me,” he said.
“They have to be there anyway – there are Torres Strait Islanders there that require assistance.”
Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman, who visited Thursday Island as part of his listening tour of far north Queensland communities, had backed Entsch.
Newman agreed it was too risky to stop the service run by Queensland Health.
“To wind them up in this way is turning the back on the problem. People will keep coming,” he said.
“If I was the premier, right now I would be fighting Canberra for ongoing funding to continue this service because this is the frontline of Australia for health reasons and it is important that we have that service up there.” – Radio Australia News