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Multi-drug resistance (MDR) tuberculosis (TB) has broken out in the Dogura area of Alotau district in Papua New Guinea's Milne Bay Province.
The situation is alarming because the local St Barnabas Anglican Health Centre is so run down it is not in a position to handle the situation.
Two of the nursing staff have contracted TB but are unable to reach Alotau for medical tests because they have not been paid for eight fortnights.
The TB patients are being kept in the intensive care unit with all other patients, further compounding the risk; the TB ward was condemned some time back and has been abandoned.
In desperation, staff have petitioned health authorities of their predicament. They have asked for a complete audit and Bishop of Dogura Diocese, Tennyson Bogar, will deliver the petition this week.
Officer-in-charge of the health centre, David Kirata, described the registered cases of TB as overwhelming “because the standard of our facilities is not conducive”. Kirata said in the last three to four years, four of his staff went down with TB as well as his own daughter.
“The situation is putting our practice in jeopardy. It is not in our best interest to petition our employer but we have to raise the alarm or fail in our duty,” Kirata said.
Two people had died in Boyaboya which happens to be the area in which the 700-strong Holy Name High School is located.
There is no resident doctor because there is no running water at the health centre. Kirata said professional staff are refusing to serve at Dogura for various reasons including pay not coming on time.
Some time back, the disease control people visited when TB was first detected and said it would be over in two weeks.
At the end of last year, the Alotau public health authority threatened to close down the health centre if running water was not installed quickly.
Alotau MP and Minister for National Planning Charles Abel recently announced that he had set up 24-hour running water for Dogura. This was investigated and apparently, the running water stopped altogether 48 hours after the commissioning.
The situation with the TB is that there is no ward to separate the afflicted and with staff numbers down, organising three shifts a day was tough. Leave and day-off was not possible said the officer-in-charge.
Abel said the information provided was not accurate.
“I’m talking to my people there regularly and this has not been mentioned. I presented K50, 000 (US$15,787) for the TB ward about three months ago, and I over-nighted with the Bishop at Dogura about a month ago." He said the new water supply was down because of damage to the new generator "but they have a back up supply,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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