By Martha Deruage
NEW cases of tuberculosis increased by over 70 per cent in the past five years despite the national strategic plan to control the disease implemented by the Health Department in 2015.
Director for Public Health Dr Niko Wuatai said the increase was mainly due to patients’ failure to complete their treatment.
Wuatai said when people did not complete their six-month treatment, it eventually led to multi-drug resistant TB, more expensive to treat and harder to overcome.
“The hotspots in the country include National Capital District, Western and Gulf,” he said.
National Capital District had the highest increase in the country with 3.3 per cent every year, he said.
Wuatai said TB was a disease associated with poverty, and with living conditions in settlement areas had supported the spread of the disease.
TB is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosi and is an airborne disease that spreads through air.
With yearly increase, the Health Department had implemented the national strategic plan to control TB in 2015 and result showed:
- An increase of over 70 per cent of new cases of TB in the last past five years;
- medicine supply from WHO was in stock and in good quality;
- TB patient receiving HIV tests had increase from 13 per cent in 2011 to an average of 24 per cent in 2016, some provinces recorded about 40 per cent;
- children made up more than a quarter of TB caseload in the country; and,
- TB is among the top five causes for hospital admission.
This week in preparation for World TB Day, lead up activities by the Health Department and partners include awareness in schools and communities around Port Moresby.
World TB Day is commonly observed on the March 24 but in Port Moresby it will be on March 23 (tomorrow) at the Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium.
Wuatai encouraged people to attend to learn how to avoid the disease and how preventative measures.
The Health Department along with Childfund, World Vision, Medicine Sans Frontiers and others agencies would set up booths and talk about the disease.