TB Control in Papua New Guinea

News release

WHO Western Pacific Regional Office position on TB control in Papua New Guinea and treatment of Papua New Guinea nationals diagnosed with TB in Australia

The management of tuberculosis (TB), including multidrug resistant cases, is of great concern to WHO and its Regional Office for the Western Pacific. WHO seeks to ensure full and equitable access to treatment and promote adherence to international standards throughout the world.

THE WHO Country Office in Papua New Guinea is working closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea and its development partners to assist in strengthening TB programmes across the country. TB prevalence in Papua New Guinea is high, and control programmes face many challenges. Despite the complex situation, TB programmes are available throughout most of the country, and improvements in the detection and treatment of patients have been noted in recent years.

Staff from the WHO Country Office in Papua New Guinea and the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines, are actively engaged in discussions with the Government of Papua New Guinea on how best to strengthen TB control, including on Daru island and the South Fly River area, both located in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), provides significant financial and technical support to the health sector in Papua New Guinea. As a key development partner, WHO is working with AusAID in Papua New Guinea to assist the government in strengthening TB services throughout the country, including services to support patients returning from Australia or elsewhere who require ongoing TB care and medication.

It is not correct, as some media reports have suggested, that WHO is set to intervene with the Australian Government on transition plans for Papua New Guinea residents diagnosed with TB in Australia. However WHO will continue to monitor the situation and stands ready to provide support as the transition plan is being developed.

WHO supports the principle that patients should be treated as close to their home as possible, as long as adequate services are available. Availability of care close to home is particularly important for TB patients, who often face many months of treatment.

With appropriate transition planning, continued dialogue and additional financial support, WHO believes that TB services on Daru island and in the South Fly River area will be able to manage patients with TB and, as services improve, also patients with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). WHO is ready to provide additional support to the Government of Papua New Guinea and its development partners, as needed, over the coming months.

For more information, please contact the Public Information Office, tel. +63 2 528 9991/93, e-mail: PIO_Unit@wpro.who.int.

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