TARI, HELA PROVINCE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Oil Search Foundation (OSF) has donated a critical piece of equipment to the Hela Provincial Health Authority (HPHA) to support the fight against tuberculosis (TB). The new GeneXpert machine will enable immediate testing and diagnosis of patients with suspected TB.
PNG has a high incidence of TB and the threat of drug resistant strains challenges an already stretched health system. With OSF’s donation of the GeneXpert, the HPHA staff are now able to detect TB cases in just two hours and start treatment immediately.
Dr Anthony Wal, Director of Clinical Services said that previously the HPHA had to wait for Port Moresby to send back test results which could take many weeks especially with the difficultly in transport to Hela. ‘The ability to turn around results within half a day is an incredible step forward in treating the disease,’ he said.
The National Department of Health, the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), the Australian Government, Global Fund and World Vision all played a role in purchasing and installing the equipment and training staff to use it.
“We have a real challenge ahead of us to detect, follow up and isolate TB patients. I appreciate the partners all working together to make an impact in Tari, Hela Province” said Dr Wal.
During the training, CPHL staff assisted the HPHA identify two patients with drug resistant TB. Both patients have now commenced on the right drugs to treat their illness.
While officially cutting the ribbon and handing over the machine to HPHA, Mr Rodney Ingersoll OSF Provincial Development Manager said “it’s been a pleasure working with so many partners in such a collaborative community approach to make a meaningful difference to TB patient care”.
OSF will continue to expand and build the capacity of the HPHA to treat TB. Over the next twelve months the Foundation will help to open a dedicated TB clinic at the provincial hospital, strengthen services in rural areas and deliver further training.
Photo: Rodney Ingersoll (OSF Provincial Development Manager), Jennifer Banamu & Karen Johnston (Central Public Health Laboratories) and Frank Kasaya (Hela Hospital Senior Lab technician) at the presentation of the GeneXpert machine (on the bench next to the laptop)