31 Mar 2005

WHO says TB cases in PNG a concern

7:22 pm on 31 March 2005

The World Health Organisation says Papua New Guinea is one of the worst countries in the Pacific affected by tuberculosis.

The organisation estimates PNG, with 6 million people, has 14,000 cases and more than 6,000 new cases every year.

Less than a quarter of the cases get cured, and it's estimated TB is killing 10 people there a day.

Information about the prevalence of the disease comes from a new treatment known as Directly Observed Treatment Short, or DOTS.

But the organisation's PNG representative, Dr Andres Reiffer, says only 20-percent of health staff are trained in it.

"The people aren't providing sufficient samples and this is because they are not informed, and they don't know the steps needed to put in the new treatment."

Dr Reiffer says many are unaware of the seriousness of TB, which attacks the lungs and is highly contagious as an airborne disease.