US joins fight against TB

The National,Wednesday June 29th, 2016

THE United States will provide technical assistance to detect and treat the more serious form of tuberculosis in PNG.
The American embassy in Port Moresby said in a statement that through USAID it will target multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and the extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).
USAID will partner Janssen Therapeutics to bring the first TB drug on the market in over 40 years to PNG.
The drug, called Bedaquiline, is used to treat patients suffering from multidrug-resistant TB which is resistant to the two most effective anti-TB drugs available today.
USAID’s assistance to GoPNG’s National TB Programme will help control the spread of multidrug-resistant TB through rapid and systematic screening to get those in need on treatment faster and through strengthened treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Rapid and systematic screening to get those in need on treatment faster will be facilitated by the use of GeneXpert machines which detect and confirm drug-resistant tuberculosis in two hours instead of weeks.
In addition to the machines, USAID will also provide technical assistance to launch the GeneXpert machines and assist the National TB Programme to test those at risk for contracting TB.
Strengthened treatment regimens for multi and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (M/XDR-TB) will include free access to Bedaquiline for 85 M/XDR-TB patients in Daru and the National Capital District.
USAID will also fund training of healthcare providers on optimal implementation of MDR-TB treatment and support the introduction of a quality assurance system for patient safety and programme quality.
US ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray said the US government was committed to helping the PNG Government  address multidrug and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis.