How MSF is fighting COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea
Since early March, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Papua New Guinea has tripled to 3,500. This outbreak includes a large number of health care workers, as well as other key groups of concern such as incarcerated people and people working in closed settings including mine sites. Around one-third of MSF staff working in tuberculosis projects have tested positive, limiting our capacity for the regular program as well as our ability to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19. MSF is currently finalizing plans to support a makeshift 43-bed COVID-19 treatment facility in Rita Flynn hospital in Port Moresby, which MSF has supported with a lab technician and cartridges to analyze samples of PCR tests for COVID-19 infections since October 2020.
Learn more about how we are responding to the coronavirus pandemic in Papua New Guinea.
Tuberculosis (TB), the second-highest cause of mortality in Papua New Guinea, remained a key challenge for the country’s health services and the focus for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 2019.
We are working in collaboration with the national TB program to improve screening, diagnosis, treatment initiation, and follow-up at Gerehu hospital in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, and in Kerema city in Gulf province. Learn how you can best help in Papua New Guinea and other countries.
In 2019, the World Health Organization’s new treatment recommendations for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) were introduced for all patients, meaning that they no longer have to undergo painful daily injections and instead receive an all-oral treatment with six months of bedaquiline, a relatively new drug that has fewer side effects. This has enabled MSF to address the key issues of improving patient care, adherence to treatment, and treatment success rates.
In Port Moresby, due to the high patient numbers, we built a dedicated TB clinic within the compound of Gerehu hospital. The new facility allows us to screen, diagnose, and treat more patients safely.
We scaled up our mobile activities, running clinics in remote areas of Gulf province, and providing better access to diagnosis and treatment for patients previously excluded from these services for geographical, economic, or cultural reasons. Please donate to support our work in Papua New Guinea and other countries around the world now.
This decentralized model of care means that patients do not need to visit medical facilities so frequently, saving them transport costs. Throughout 2019, we introduced improvements in quality of care, with the integration of HIV testing, greater emphasis on counseling, and closer monitoring of patients, their treatments and any side effects. This has helped to reduce the number of patients failing to complete treatment.