This week our blog features guest writer Sian White from World Vision PNG, who talks about the work of World Vision PNG as a partner of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
A person who becomes infected with TB is often forced to fight two battles: one against the microscopic bacteria infecting their lungs and body, and the other against the stigma surrounding the disease.
Illan Sevua is a nurse and previously worked at one of Port Moresby’s Private Clinics. When she was diagnosed with TB she understandably felt angry: she spent her days helping others who were sick and now was rewarded with TB! Despite working for a medical institution Illan’s employer was reluctant to allow her to resume work following her diagnosis. She began to notice her family treating her differently and even put her relationship on hold because of her own fears.
In PNG many employers regularly sack staff if they are diagnosed with TB because they are worried about the risk of that staff member infecting other staff or clients. However this is a grave misconception. Once a TB patient is commenced on medication they become non-infectious after just 2 weeks.
As part of the Global Fund Round 6 TB grant to PNG, the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP) has been rolling out TB workplace policies for corporate entities around the country. These TB workplace policies are tailored towards individual companies but in all cases aim to achieve three core things: a) to save lives by protecting the company’s most valuable asset ‒ their people, b) to create awareness and share information about TB among staff and the general community, and c) to foster a positive work environment, free from fear of discrimination or dismissal on the basis of having TB.
Illan was fortunate that her doctor spent time to educate her family and colleagues about TB following her diagnosis. Illan explained that after ‘the awareness done to my family and colleagues, I dealt with things positively and completed treatment’. After two weeks sick leave, she resumed work while completing her 6 months of daily tablets until she was cured. Illan now works as the nurse for one of PNG’s oldest and largest companies ‒ Steamships Trading Company.
Illan took a leading role in partnering with the NTP to develop a workplace TB policy for their 3,500 employees around the country. Under this policy Steamships nominated 60 staff from all divisions to be trained as TB point people. These individuals are now qualified to roll out awareness to all of their colleagues within their division and be treatment supporters for any diagnosed patients. Illan is very much involved in training and awareness for TB, ‘I use my experience during these presentations to prove to my colleagues that if I can be cured, anyone who has TB can be cured too’.
Sian is the National ACSM Project Manager for World Vision PNG’s TB DOTS Program.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. The work of World Vision’s Pacific and Timor Leste Office, which PNG is a part of, focuses on health, water and sanitation, literacy, food security, income generation, community development and emergency assistance. World Vision PNG receives funding as one of the principle recipients of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. For more about World Vision PNG’s TB DOTS Program, join the Stop TB Campaign Facebook Page .
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Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.