Browsing articles in "Malaria"
31 August 2012
Guest Contributor

Papua New Guinea’s National Malaria Summit

Today in Port Moresby a gathering of experts will meet at Papua New Guinea’s 2012 National Malaria Summit to discuss the country’s plan to combat the life-threatening disease. Hosted by the National Department of Health, the summit will bring together key actors involved in the delivery of the PNG Malaria Control Program, allowing clinicians, public health practitioners and researchers the opportunity to provide updates on provincial progress against the disease and to revise up-to-date prevention and treatment strategies.

One of the organisations involved in the summit will be the Papua New Guinea Institute for Medical Research (PNGIMR), PNG’s leading medical scientific research institute. PNGIMR drives a strong PNG based research agenda, which identifies appropriate solutions for scientifically-informed responses to malaria in the Pacific region. In its most recent reports PNGIMR has urged funders to seriously consider the challenging setting that PNG provides in implementing malaria treatment and prevention programs.

Indeed, malaria continues to be a significant public health challenge in Papua New Guinea. The disease is the country’s most common outpatient diagnosis, with the World Health Organisation reporting approximately 1.36 million cases per year. This makes malarial infection the second-highest leading reason for hospital admission. Approximately 90% of the population is at risk of infection with some 800 malaria-related deaths in 2011; most of these being children under the age of five.

Participants at today’s National Malaria Summit will include the Oil Search Health Foundation, Rotarians Against Malaria and Population Services International. In partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, these organisations have been instrumental in assisting the Papua New Guinea National Department of Health in adopting of the PNG Malaria Control Program. The collaborative nature of the program itself has achieved impressive results, and since 2007 has seen over 5.5 million insecticide treated bed nets distributed and resulted in a reduction in the incidence of malarial infections within the community from 13% in 2009 to 6.5% in 2011 (PNGIMR, forthcoming).

The address of malaria as a significant public health burden in Papua New Guinea and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region will also form the basis of high-level discussions in the upcoming 2012 International Malaria Summit, which will be held in Sydney and hosted by AusAID in late October this year.

8 August 2012
Guest Contributor

Partnerships for Success in Papua New Guinea

This is a guest post from Anna Maalsen, Public Health Management Advisor at the National Department of Health in Port Morseby, Papua New Guinea.

NDOH Secretary Dr Kase © PNG NDOH 2012

Walking into the Public Health Division of the National Department of Health in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, is akin to entering the central nervous system of the country’s health system. Here a group of committed public servants, technical advisers and international partners tap away at their computers planning and coordinating the response to the country’s priority diseases. It is challenging work, but the biggest challenge still remains in service delivery and ensuring that sufficient financial resources are made available to implement programs to scale.

The initial grants disbursed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2004, heralded a new opportunity to address both the financial and service delivery issues, pumping resources into diseases long forgotten after the dismantling of the public health programmes in the early 1980’s. It offered the chance to reverse the increasing rates of malaria, tuberculosis, and address the emerging threat of HIV and AIDS. Significant gains were made during this period, the National Department of Health (NDOH) as the Principle Recipient (PR) distributed over 2 million treated bed nets, introduced the Fixed Dose Combination Treatment and Directly Observed Treatment Strategy for TB, and introduced Anti-Retroviral Treatment at 55 clinics and scaled up HIV counselling and testing in over 400 centres across the country.

However, the increasing burden of Global Fund grant management began to place great stress on the already fragile internal systems, which were not designed to manage such large amounts of funds. A complex period in 2011 with internal restructuring and insufficient capacity to manage the grants, the Secretary of Health at the time, made a tough but courageous decision to relinquish the Global Fund grant management. This would allow for the Department of Health to focus on its core business: technical support, policy and leadership, and give way for future grants to managed by organisations that routinely manage. Dr Paison Dakulala, the Deputy Secretary commented to the CCM at the time of decision “the Global Fund is like a super tanker pulling up to a  small wooden wharf, what we need is the super tanker to go offshore for a time to give us the space to build a concrete wharf in order to unload the cargo.”

Despite this, an opportunity to change the way of doing business for the Department emerged and the Secretary endorsed a progressive partnership model, which would see that the NDOH would very much remain the lead on the grants both on the technical and programmatic sides, but effectively outsource the financial and grant management aspects. This aligns very closely to the National Health Plan 2011-2020, the most clearly articulated plan for the Health System in over 30 years, and links directly to the Key Result Area 2: Strengthen partnerships and coordination with stakeholders. In 2012, the Secretary of Health, Mr Pascoe Kase signed a Memorandum of Agreements with both the Oil Search Health Foundation and World Vision International, which sets out the process for the new way of doing business. Secretary Kase states that best thing about the new arrangement is “that the NDOH can have confidence that critical activities are delivered in a timely manner with partners that we can trust who have a demonstrated track record. Thus leaving the dedicated staff at the NDOH to get on do what they do best, providing the technical and policy leadership, along with planning and coordinating the response to these priority diseases.”

24 July 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Australia to host high-level malaria conference

On 13 July the office of the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Bob Carr, announced that Australia will host a high-level conference in October this year called “Malaria 2012: Saving lives in the Asia Pacific” to help combat the challenge of malaria.

Media release: Australia to host high-level malaria conference

Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr announced the Malaria 2012: Saving lives in the Asia Pacific conference at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Cambodia yesterday.

“Despite recent progress in tackling malaria, there are still more than 200 million malaria cases globally, with around 30 million cases in our region,” Senator Carr said.

Malaria has a profound impact on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our region causing 42,000 deaths in 2010 and leaving many more unable to work and care for their families. Malaria also threatens economic growth and business interests in the region.

“Gains in controlling and eliminating malaria are threatened by emerging drug resistance in the region.

“Addressing global health issues has been a priority for Australia at the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ meeting and I am pleased that we will continue this work at the malaria conference later this year.

“The conference will provide an opportunity for Asia-Pacific leaders to build on our successes, protect the gains and further develop regional responses to malaria.

“It will also provide a forum to discuss how we can work together to combat emerging drug resistant strains in the region and explore ways of contributing to the global effort to eliminate deaths from malaria by the end of 2015, as called for by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.”

Australia has been working with developing countries in Asia and the Pacific regions to combat malaria. Australia currently supports the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network and provides investments to save peoples’ lives, including through funding treatment and the distribution of bed nets in Asia Pacific.

Our support has helped to achieve significant results in reducing malaria cases in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Since 2003, our investments have helped to reduce malaria cases by 70 per cent in the Solomon Islands and 85 per cent in Vanuatu.

Malaria 2012 will be held over three days in Sydney from 31 October – 2 November 2012. Representatives from governments and development partners across Asia and the Pacific will attend the conference along with leading health and development experts.

Senator Carr will host a ministerial meeting as part of the event with the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, Mr Ray Chambers.

18 May 2012
Guest Contributor

Doors open to many as medical technologies become available in PNG

© Michael Wong, Pacific Friends

Every week, Yawek holds his clinic doors open to around 2,000 patients. Despite the heavy workload for an understaffed health centre, Yawek, the Clinical Director of Malahang Health Centre in Lae, will soon have access to new medical technologies which will allow him, along with other clinics in heavily urbanised cities, to effectively diagnose HIV and commence early treatment. Amongst the latest initiatives rolled out by the PNG National Department of Health (NDOH) is HIV 1/2 Stat-Pack confirmatory testing (single-use diagnostic tests for the rapid, visual detection of antibodies to HIV 1 and HIV 2).

With Malahang located between urban settlements and a rural village, the need for timely and efficient diagnostics is key to effectively managing HIV in a setting located far from larger facilities. Before such technology was available, clients would have to wait up to two weeks for confirmatory test results from provincial health centres. If screening results are positive, HIV 1/2 Stat-Pack testing will enable urban health centres such as Malahang to commence life-saving treatment sooner.

HIV and AIDS is one of the four priorities for Australia’s Development Cooperation Strategy for Papua New Guinea. Since 2007, AusAID has committed $185 million to the program. It will merge with the Health Sector Support Program in 2012. In 2011 the program aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2011–2015 to support prevention, testing, counselling, treatment and care and health system strengthening.

Former HIV Program Director Anne Malcolm, who was based with AusAID in PNG, said “the targets are high, but Papua New Guinea has access to the relationships and the resources it needs to effectively deal with its major public health issues.”

National Department of Health Manager of Disease Control and Surveillance, Dr Sibauk Bieb adds that “forming technical standards at a national level was key to fighting HIV effectively in PNG.” Part of this strategy involves standardising the use of Stat-Pack HIV testing across heavily burdened health clinics like Yawek’s. Now, with the aid of the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS), prevention of HIV has also been bolstered, with NACS supporting condom distribution which has increased by a third across PNG in a year (from nearly 18 million in 2010 to over 27 million in 2011). This program reflects one of the instrumental steps taken by the  National Department of Health in response to  the HIV and AIDS epidemic in PNG. With the aid of organisations such as AusAID and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, PNG continues to roll-out world-standard care across the country to fight this disease.

26 April 2012
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Malaria T3: Test. Treat. Track.

Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

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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.

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