By DULCIE OREKE and ELIZABETH MIAE
TUBERCULOSIS (TB) claims a life in Papua New Guinea every two hours daily, the World Vision International
This staggering statistic has spurred Unicef to call on the media to help fight the spread of TB by raising awareness.
TB has taken many lives, especially those who were also infected with HIV.
“The media has the ability to bring to the forefront development issues that do not get enough attention. It has the ability to give out information that can save and improve lives,” Unicef’s Nikki Harvey said to journalists who attended a TB training workshop in Lamana on Monday.
WVI communications and advocacy volunteer assistant Sian White said the media had immense power to convince the Government to take action against TB.
“We cannot sit and not do anything about TB when one person dies from it every two hours in PNG,” she said.
She urged the media to help by reporting on TB effectively so the Government might provide the resources to roll out direct observed treatment short-course (DOTS) nationwide.
DOTS is a World Health Organisation (WHO), strategy for the detection and cure of TB.
Currently, DOTS has been established in NCD, Morobe, Milne Bay, Madang, East Sepik and some Highlands provinces.
Special guests at the workshop included former TB patient Anne Malesa,who successfully completed her treatment and was cured.
Mrs Malesa shared her story with the participants of how she was cured through her faithfulness to the treatment for six months.
As a former health worker, she did not think she would contract TB.
After experiencing its symptoms for a period of time, she went for screening and was put on treatment.
“My family was shocked and scared at first when I told them,’’ she said.
She assured them that as a trained nurse and a mother, she believed in the treatment and the help she was getting from the health workers at the clinic.
Gerehu St John Hospital community health worker Mary Peter, who accompanied Mrs Malesa to the workshop, expressed her concern over how many new TB cases she was seeing
“Previously we were seeing 30 to 40 patients a month. But the number has increased to about 90 a month.
“Most of those infected are settlers and therefore the focus of the fight against the disease through awareness should be on settlements,” she said.