31 May 2016
Shawn Clackett

Papua New Guinea: TB keeps hospital shut, says Kaluvia

From The National, page 15, Friday 20 May 2016


Chief executive officer of the Kundiawa General Hospital Mathew Kaluvia says the hospital has remained closed and quarantined to prevent the spread of multiple drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Kaluvia said the hospital board and management have made a decision until the temporarily wards built for MDR-TB patients are completed.

“For public safety, we closed down the hospital because we do not have a facility to cater for this drug resistant TB patients.

“TB, unlike other diseases, spreads through the air and it is a threat to public health.

“Therefore, we are strictly monitoring the situation. We are keeping the patients in the cancer ward and the construction of the ward is nearing completion.

We are possibly looking at opening the hospital on Monday next week (30 May 2016),” Kaluvia said.

He said a team from the National Department of Health visited the hospital last week.

“So we are waiting for their recommendations on what actions to take.

“But we are very grateful to the provincial government and the governor for their full backing in dealing with the situation,” Kaluvia said.

“We received another K100,000 from the Governor Noah Kool last Monday and we are using it to speed up the construction of the temporary wards.

13 July 2013
Guest Contributor

HIV, pregnancy and parenthood in PNG

A report from the IMR, HIV, pregnancy and parenthood is a qualitative study of the prevention and treatment of HIV in pregnant women, parents and their infants in PNG and is carried out by researchers at the IMR in collaboration with colleagues at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

No Child born with HIV by 2015

HIV-positive mothers and their husbands are key agents in determining the future of maternal and child health and the prevention of parent to child transmission (PPTCT) of HIV in PNG, a recent report has found.

Carried out by researchers at the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR) in collaboration with colleagues at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the report from the IMR, HIV, pregnancy and parenthood is a qualitative study of the prevention and treatment of HIV in pregnant women, parents and their infants in PNG.

Funded by AusAID’s Development Research Award Scheme, the study sought to understand the experiences of women and men engaging in prevention of parent to child transmission of HIV programs in two high HIV burden provinces: the National Capital District and Western Highlands.

“The study looked into a number of important areas in the prevention and treatment of HIV for parents and infants,” said Dr Angela Kelly, Head of Social and Behavioral Research, IMR.

This included ‘HIV testing and care during pregnancy, ‘positive living’, HIV treatment for parents and their babies, early infant diagnosis and men’s involvement’

“One of the interesting findings was the number of women and their husbands who already knew that they had HIV and who, wanting a family, were able to do so because of increased access to HIV treatment and care at PPTCT clinics throughout the country,” said Dr Kelly.

“Some parents had lost a baby to AIDS previously while other wanted a child for the first time. They all wanted the joy of holding a baby “free from HIV”,” she said.

“In response to the key findings, a number of important recommendations were made with the stakeholder community. One of which was the importance of ensuring health care workers involved in PPTCT were giving mothers the most up-to-date infant feeding advice.”

“In 2009 revised National guidelines on infant feeding were released which recommend exclusive breastfeeding of all infants for the first six months of life, along with the continuation of breastfeeding, together with other foods and fluids after 6 months,” she said.

“More than two years after the revised policy was released, the updated information was not fully disseminated. Many health care workers reported that they told women to abruptly cease breastfeeding and not mix feed after 6 months.”

Dr Kelly went on to say that HIV testing in the ANC is a critical first step in a long process to prevent babies being infected with HIV. Increased human resources are needed to ensure women are given greater support during the testing and counseling process.

The study also found that early infant diagnosis was an area where improvements were urgently needed.

Some parents, she said, reported giving up getting their child’s test results after many failed attempts.

A total of 113 women, men and health care workers participated in this study, which was conducted between January and December 2011 in nine clinics in the two study provinces. This study provides critical information required to improve maternal and child health and to treat and prevent HIV in PNG.

12 July 2013
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Oil Search Health Foundation reaches 30,000 HIV tests in PNG

30,000 HIV Tests

The Oil Search Health Foundation (OSHF) HIV Program recorded its 30,000th HIV test this week. Commencing HIV program support in late 2007, OSHF has played a major role in the scale-up of HIV testing in the Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces. Last year the team launched an additional round of support in Hela and Morobe provinces.

The dedicated HIV Care & Prevention team have provided clinical training and mentorship, monitoring and evaluation support and logistical assistance to ensure a continuous supply of HIV test kits, medication and condoms to rural and remote health facilities.

This is a major milestone for the Oil Search Health Foundation that could not have been achieved without the full support and commitment of provincial health staff. All involved are to be commended.

– Kevin Miles, HIV Specialist

Of the 30,000 HIV tests, 419 (1.4%) have been confirmed as HIV positive. Many of these individuals continue to receive antiretroviral medication and ongoing support in the 35 health facilities that the OSHF supports.

Click here to learn more about the Oil Search Health Foundation

10 July 2013
Guest Contributor

New isolation ward boosts the fight against TB in PNG

Dr Rendi Moke, Provincial TB Physician Western Province and Nurse Konia Sampson, TB Nurse Aid, in the new TB  PNG Minister for Health and HIV, the Hon Michael Malabag, and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Senator Matt Thistlethwaite cut a ribbon at the entrance of the TB and isolation ward to officially open the building.

Dr Rendi Moke, Provincial TB Physician Western Province and Nurse Konia Sampson, TB Nurse Aid, in the new TB ward. (Left photo)
Photo: Andrew Gavin / AusAID

PNG Minister for Health and HIV, the Hon Michael Malabag, and Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Senator Matt Thistlethwaite cut a ribbon at the entrance of the TB and isolation ward to officially open the building. (Right photo)
Photo: Kyle Taylor / AusAID

The effort to stop tuberculosis (TB) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) received a boost this week with the opening of new specialist treatment facilities at Daru General Hospital in PNG’s Western Province. Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Senator the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite, opened the 22-bed TB and isolation ward at Daru General Hospital with PNG Minister for Health and HIV, the Hon Michael Malabag MP.

 The ward comprises six isolation rooms that meet international standards for isolation of airborne infections in addition to a 16 bed ward for recovering TB patients. The facilities will help improve infection control and reduce the risk of transmission of TB, particularly drug-resistant strains, from patient to patient.

The new ward is part of Australia’s $32.9 million commitment to support the Government of PNG’s comprehensive approach to detection and treatment of TB in Western Province.

Senator Thistlethwaite said the best way to stop drug-resistant TB is early diagnosis paired with Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) provided for patients in their own communities. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) DOTS protocol uses health volunteers to visit TB patients daily to ensure they take their medication and complete their full course of treatment.

‘This is the approach Australia supports and it is saving lives,’ Senator Thistlethwaite said. ‘Data from Daru Hospital shows that mortality rates from multi-drug resistant TB fell from 25 per cent to 5 per cent between 2011 and 2012.’

Outreach services

In addition to this new ward, Australia’s support in Western Province also includes providing TB specialist staff, training for community health workers and volunteer treatment supporters, medical equipment, medicines, a sea ambulance, and funding for laboratory diagnosis support in Queensland. Australia’s approach has been endorsed by public health and TB experts, including the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer and the WHO, the global authority on controlling TB.

Senator Thistlethwaite also inspected the sea ambulance the Medics Queen which Western Province health workers use to deliver outreach services – including for people undergoing TB treatment to Middle and South Fly.

The Medics Queen recently returned to service after undergoing maintenance. In April, Australia provided two banana boats to the Western Province Health Office for outreach services while the Medics Queen was serviced. Australia has also provided the Western Province Health Office with a semi-inflatable boat that can access hard-to-reach communities.

Tackling tuberculosis on a national scale 

At the TB ward opening. Senator Thistlethwaite noted the problem is not just confined to PNG’s Western Province. ‘Across PNG around 14,000 new cases of TB are diagnosed every year, making it one of the country’s most significant health and development issues.

‘That being said, we know that TB is preventable and treatable and that with the right commitment and support, we can make a difference.’

Apart from its work in Western Province, Australia funds a specialist TB Medical Officer in the WHO’s Port Moresby office whose role includes supervising and training health workers to improve TB management throughout PNG.

Broader Australian assistance for PNG’s health system includes health worker training, medical supply distribution and technical support. This assistance also contributes to PNG’s national response to diseases like TB. In addition, Australia supports the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which is investing US$28.2 million (2007-2014) in supporting the Government of PNG manage TB nationally.

25 April 2013
Shawn Clackett

World Malaria Day

April 25, 2013

By the time you finish reading this article, malaria will have killed five children. Malaria kills an estimated 660,000 people every year of which some 85% are children under five years of age. That is roughly one death every minute of every day. Neatly 3.3 billion people, half of the world’s population, are at risk of acquiring malaria. In 2010, there were over 219 million cases of malaria. Eighty percent of all cases occurred in just 17 countries with forty percent occuring in only three countries- the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Nigeria.

Although malaria is most common in Africa, it is endemic in many Asia-Pacific countries including Papua New Guinea. Eighteen percent of all deaths at PNG hospitals are malaria-related. With 90% of the country at risk, approximately 800 Papua New Guineans die from malaria each year.

Malaria is a preventable and curable disease. However, many countries do not have the funding or access to the prevention services, early diagnosis, or treatments that could save thousands of lives. On World Malaria Day, April 25, we reflect on the severity and cruelty of this disease but also recognize the progress we have made towards defeating one of the world’s greatest killer diseases.

Malaria Map


Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito (specifically the Anopheles genus). Effective prevention involves the use of insecticide-treated bed nets (ITNs) which act as a barrier between an uninfected person and a malarial mosquito. ITNs have been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in children under 5 by about 20 percent and malarial illnesses among children under 5 and pregnant women by up to 50 percent. An additional preventive measure is the use of indoor residual spraying, which repels and kills mosquitoes. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has provided malaria-endemic countries with some 310 million insecticide-treated bed nets and provided indoor residual spraying units to 44 million buildings.

Malaria is curable and there have been recent advances in treatment. Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), the most effective antimalarial drugs, have been increasingly available worldwide. The number of ACT treatment courses acquired by public health authorities increased from 11.2 million in 2005 to 76 million in 2006, and 181 million in 2010. The Global Fund has played a critical role in the introduction and expansion of coverage of ACTs in many countries where resistance to older malaria drugs has increased. In addition to financing treatment for 260 million cases (cumulatively) of malaria by mid-2012, the Global Fund has been piloting a pioneering financing mechanism to improve access to ACTs by making them more affordable.

With the Global Fund’s new US$15 billion replenishment target for 2014-16, announced in Brussels earlier this month, we have every hope that malaria will soon be a problem of our past. We have come a far way in treatment and prevention of malaria, but with a child dying every minute, we clearly still have a long way to go.

Shawn Clackett

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