PNG needs to do more to tackle tuberculosis, NGO says, ahead of World TB Day

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death from infectious disease in Papua New Guinea.

About 5,000 people are expected to die this year while another 40,000 will become sick, according to a civil society group that works to reduce TB infection, B4H, or Business for Health.

The theme of World TB Day 2024 – ‘Yes! We can end TB!’.

According to the World Health Organisation, global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 75 million lives since the year 2000.

However, TB causes 1.3m deaths each year and affects millions more, with enormous impacts on families and communities, the UN’s health ageny said.

B4H, which works with private businesses, wants to use this Sunday’s World TB Day to highlight the reality PNG faces.

Principal Ann Clarke said strong leadership on the matter is needed across the country.

“I don’t think any of us are doing as much as we can,” she said.

“PNG has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons in the last few months, in particular, and that’s really a reflection of a long term and systemic problem across all areas of society.”

B4H is supported by a very vibrant private sector, which Clarke said, can manage to “fly in the face of very difficult circumstances and the difficulty of doing business in that kind of environment where money and resources are hard to import or export”.

She said they know that good leadership drives change and B4H finds this when they visit workplaces to educate people about TB and how to control it.

Clarke said by tapping into the workplace B4H is able to reach large numbers because each person holding a job in the formal sector can reach as many as 20 other family members.

“They have enormous power to generate change, not just in how to access services, but leadership in terms of changing the culture of mystical beliefs about the causes of TB,” she said.

She said for World TB day on Sunday, B4H is focussing on story telling to get the message across.

“We know that in PNG storytelling is a huge part of the language and the local culture, where so many people do not have formal work.

“So this year, we’ve created a set of short stories we’ve commissioned a play.

“We’ve generated stories that come with key facts and talking points and question and answer sections at the bottom of each story.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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