Government of Australia donates vehicle to NCD Health office to support TB Program
As part of its ongoing support to help eradicate tuberculosis in PNG, the Australian Government has donated a vehicle to the National Capital District Health Office (NCD Health) to support its TB Program. The vehicle will be used to transport patients; supply drugs to TB clinics; collect sputum specimen for laboratory testing; support supervisory visits to clinics; and monitor treatment supporter programs.
In the past two years NCD Health has been hiring vehicles to do its various tasks within the city and its periphery, as this was the only means of having reliable transport for patients that lived outside the city. Patients attended to lived as far as Lealea village in Hiri-West, Gaire village in Hiri-East and also the Laloki Bridge area along the Hiritano Highway. But hiring of vehicles has cost the program excessively and affected its functionality.
The TB disease burden in NCD is the highest in the country and represented over 25% of all cases (6,483) notified in PNG in 2014. Case notifications are four to five times higher than the national average and this has been the observed trend over the last five years. The success and cure rates have been improving steadily since the first quarter of 2014; however, these rates are still below national targets.
NCD has also experienced an increase in case notification and development of drug resistant TB. This poses major challenges in terms of mounting a response to control transmission in the community. Strengthening of the TB program in many areas is needed in order to improve treatment outcomes and reduce the burden of the disease. With this vehicle, NCD Health will be able to fast track early detection, start of treatment, and increase the success rate of treatment.