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Working together to stop TB

An hour out of Port Moresby, Agevairu nestles among the green mountains of Central Province. Against this backdrop and fighting hoards of mosquitos, 20 health workers from across the Rigo and Kairuku Districts gathered for a capacity building training program aimed at detection and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) cases in rural communities in Papua New Guinea.

ChildFund PNG is partnering with World Vision, the National TB program and Central Provincial Health on the Stop TB in my Lifetime campaign. We are working to improve TB rates by training health workers in awareness and treatment, and assisting in upgrading health facilities in communities in Central Province.

TB is one of the largest health threats to communities in PNG. In the last 10 years, there has been a 42 per cent increase in the incidence of new cases, disproportionally affecting children. According to the National Department of Health, almost 30 per cent of reported cases affect children aged 0-14 years. With limited resources to address the epidemic, health partnerships are critical in raising community awareness, improving treatment adherence and assisting rundown health facilities in communities.

The Stop TB in my Lifetime training program has seen a marked improvement in health workers’ ability to detect and treat TB, and provided the skills to support awareness and advocacy in halting the spread of TB. For some, it was the first time that they had received specialised training, acknowledging that it would go a long way towards assisting their communities in detection and treatment referral.

Recognition and support for health workers in the harsh environment of remote communities is often lacking, with inaccessibility and lack of resources (human and material) placing a significant strain on workers. Inclusion in training programs, such as this, ensures that their dedication is recognised, as well as providing much needed support in the fight to stop TB.

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