1 Oct 2014

Drug misuse helps spread TB in PNG

3:10 pm on 1 October 2014

The head of Papua New Guinea's tuberculosis programme says the disease may be spreading because people stop taking their medicines too early.

The Prime Minister launched a TB awareness campaign after reports of hospital wards being full of infected patients and fears the rate would climb out of control.

Paul Iia says 23,000 people in PNG contracted the disease last year and in 2014 the rate is projected to climb to at least 29,000.

Dr Iia says he has found a lot of people stop taking their medicine once they feel better, but TB drugs are usually meant to be taken for six months.

"Whoever has been diagnosed with TB should continue the treatment. Whoever has symptoms should go check the health facilities and then there's treatment available. If you don't take treatment then you spread the disease, then you die with the disease. It's a curable disease, the drugs are available. People should be aware of this and they should be responsible."

Dr Iia says TB symptoms include a bad cough that lasts at least two weeks, night-sweats and a loss of weight.