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Equipping remote health centres to test for Tuberculosis

Diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) in two remote parts of Central Province has been made simpler with the donation of two microscopes by ChildFund Papua New Guinea.

The donation of the A$2,400 Olympus CX23 microscopes to the Inauai and Aigevairu Health Centres will speed up the delivery of TB results from sputum tests, and forms part of ChildFund’s Healthy Communities for Healthy Children Program.

In the past, sputum was collected from patients and then transported to Port Moresby for smear microscopy at the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), or Bereina Health Centre. This is because the two local Health Centres were not equipped for TB testing and analysis. It would take several days before the results could be sent back to local health workers.

“The donation has been a blessing. I am thankful to ChildFund PNG for listening to our need and for helping us. This microscope has eased our workload and provides quick results for the clients. With this microscope, I will no long waste time to travel for smear tests and use those hours to save more lives,” said Francis Aupu, Lab Technician at Aigevairu Health Centre.

“Since the announcement of the availability of the testing services, Agevairu Health Centre recorded 87 clients between the ages of 11 – 70 being tested, between September 2015 and April 2016,” said Olive Oa, ChildFund PNG Senior Program Officer for Health. From this, she added that nine cases of TB have been confirmed.

Inauai Health Centre received their microscope in April and have already commenced testing for patients.

CPHL Medical Scientist, Jennifer Banamu, said: “CPHL is responsible to purchase such equipment for Health Centres in the country, but currently, there are no funds available. We have asked the Provincial Health Departments to support their districts. CPHL appreciates ChildFund’s effort with this much-needed donation for the two Health Centres.”

Despite TB testing now being available at two local Health Centres, many patients from rural communities still face difficulty accessing support. The issue of having to walk for hours or drift on banana rafts down rivers still remains; and in more severe cases, patients may have to be carried on stretchers by men. This is due to a lack of road links and deteriorating road conditions in Central Province.

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