Pathology in PNG

Pathology laboratory opens in Port Moresby

Don't Chew betel nut

Don't Chew Betel Nut, Don't Smoke, Reduce Alcohol, Eat Healthy, Exercise Regularly

Fighting Cervice Cancer in PNG

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Creator Supports NCD HPV Pilot Vaccination Program

Choosing Food

The science of taste: Why we choose fries over broccoli

PNG's MRI Scanner

Public health system in PNG gets first MRI scanner

Monday, July 31, 2017

15 Cancer Symptoms You Should Know

The 2014 Cancer mortality profile for Papua New Guinea showed that 56,000 total deaths took place from cancer alone. That is about 0.01 percent of the total population of 7.167 million which is still a significant amount compared to the current status of the cancer treatment facilities in the country.

It is better for Papua New Guineans to consider prevention as a priority to avoid being victimized by this killer disease.  Here are 15 cancer symptoms that you should know so you seek medical help sooner.

Changes in Your Skin

A new spot on your skin or one that changes size, shape, or color could be a sign of skin cancer. Another is a spot that doesn’t look the same as all the others on your body. If you have any unusual marks, have your doctor check your skin. She will do an exam and may remove a small piece (called a biopsy) to take a closer look for cancer cells.

Nagging Cough

If you don’t smoke, there’s very little chance a nagging cough is a sign of cancer. Usually, it’s caused by postnasal drip, asthma, acid reflux, or an infection. But if yours doesn’t go away or you cough up blood — especially if you are a smoker — see your doctor.  She may test mucus from your lungs or do a chest X-ray to check for lung cancer.

Breast Changes

Most breast changes are not cancer. It is still important, though, to tell your doctor about them and have her check them out. Let her know about any lumps, nipple changes or discharge, redness or thickening, or pain in your breasts. She’ll do an exam and may suggest a mammogram, MRI, or maybe a biopsy.

Bloating

You may have a full, bloated feeling because of your diet or even stress. But if it doesn’t get better or you also have fatigue, weight loss, or back pain, have it checked out. Constant bloating in women may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Your doctor can do a pelvic exam to look for the cause.

Problems When You Pee

Many men have urinary issues as they get older, like the need to go more often, leaks, or a weak stream. Usually, these are signs of an enlarged prostate, but they could also mean prostate cancer. See your doctor for an exam and maybe a special blood test called a PSA test.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

You have these small, bean-shaped glands in your neck, armpits, and other places in your body. When they’re swollen, it often means you’re fighting an infection like a cold or strep throat. Some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can also cause this kind of swelling. Talk to your doctor to pinpoint the cause.

Blood When You Use the Bathroom

If you see blood in the toilet after you go, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. Bloody stool is likely to come from swollen, inflamed veins called hemorrhoids, but there’s a chance it could be colon cancer. Blood in your pee could be a problem like a urinary tract infection, but it may be kidney or bladder cancer.

Testicle Changes

If you notice a lump or swelling in your testicles, you need to see your doctor right away. A painless lump is the most common sign of testicular cancer. Sometimes though, a man may just have a heavy feeling in his lower belly or scrotum or think his testicles feel larger. Your doctor will do a physical exam of the area and may use an ultrasound scan to see if there is a tumor or another problem.

Trouble Swallowing

The common cold, acid reflux, or even some medicine can make it hard to swallow once in a while. If it doesn’t get better with time or with antacids, see your doctor. Trouble swallowing can also be a sign of cancer in your throat or the pipe between your mouth and stomach, called the esophagus. Your doctor will do an exam and some tests like a barium X-ray, in which you swallow a chalky fluid to show your throat more clearly on the image.

Unusual Vaginal Bleeding

Bleeding that’s not part of your usual period can have many causes, like fibroids or even some types of birth control. But tell your doctor if you’re bleeding between periods, after sex, or have bloody discharge. She’ll want to rule out cancer of the uterus, cervix, or vagina. Be sure to let her know if you are bleeding after menopause. That’s not normal and should be checked out right away.

Mouth Issues

From bad breath to canker sores, most changes in your mouth aren’t serious. But if you have white or red patches or sores in your mouth that don’t heal after a couple of weeks — especially if you smoke — see your doctor. It may be a sign of oral cancer. Other things to look for: a lump in your cheek, trouble moving your jaw, or mouth pain.

Weight Loss

Of course, you can slim down when you change the way you eat or exercise. It can also happen if you have other issues, like stress or a thyroid problem. But it’s not normal to lose 10 pounds or more without trying. There’s a chance it could be a first sign of cancer of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or lung.

Fever

A fever isn’t usually a bad thing. Sometimes it’s just a sign that your body is fighting an infection. It can also be a side effect of some medicines. But one that won’t go away and doesn’t have an obvious cause could be a sign of a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma.

Heartburn or Indigestion

Almost everyone has this burning feeling sometimes, often because of their diet or stress. If lifestyle changes don’t work and your indigestion doesn’t stop, your doctor may want to do some tests to look for a cause. It could be a sign of stomach cancer.

Fatigue

A lot of things can make you very tired, and most of them aren’t serious. But fatigue is one early sign of some cancers, like leukemia. Some colon and stomach cancers can cause blood loss that you can’t see, which can make you feel very tired. If you’re wiped out all the time and rest doesn’t help, talk to your doctor.

EMTV

Thursday, July 27, 2017

US Govt supports introduction of new TB drug to PNG

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with partner organisations to introduce a new drug into Papua New Guinea called bedaquiline, the first new drug for tuberculosis in over 45 years.

The USAID through funding provided to FHI360 and the World Health Organization is working with the National Department of Health (NDoH) to host a series of trainings to help PNG’s doctors safely introduce bedaquiline.

Senior Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Technical Advisor Dr Anh Innes at the USAID Bureau for Global Health in Washington D.C. has returned to PNG to oversee USAID’s donation of bedaquiline and provide technical assistance for the NDoH, specifically the Pharmaceutical Services Standards Branch (PSSB).

“Our main strategy for the safe introduction of bedaquiline is called pharmacovigilance, which is the science of early detection and monitoring of adverse effects,” she said.

“When adverse events happen when you take a medicine, you want to be able to find them quickly and manage them effectively.”

As well as supporting the safe introduction of bedaquiline, USAID and the NDOH PSSB are also using that as a catalyst to build the foundation for pharmacovigilance for all drugs here in PNG.

In Dr. Innes’ three previous visits, she carried out trainings on pharmacovigilance for bedaquiline for physicians in 12 provinces in the country.

“So this time, we’re focusing on working with the PSSB to roll out the ‘backbone’ for pharmacovigilance through the provincial Medicines and Therapeutics Committee (MTC). The first stage of the roll out is happening at Gerehu Clinic this week,” Dr. Innes said.

The PSSB will host a series of MTC trainings that will take place in provinces and hospitals throughout the country.

FHI360 Country Director Daniel Tesfaye added that USAID has donated 85 courses of bedaquiline, distributed mainly to Daru Hospital and the Port Moresby General Hospital as they care for high numbers of drug-resistant TB patients.

“It’s a very good contribution to the country to ensure that people who have multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) get the best treatment,” Mr Tesfaye said.

“Besides that, USAID and FHI360 are working with PSSB to ensure that adverse events are actually registered in the global system so that PNG can become a full member of the World Health Organization’s Uppsala Monitoring Center.”

Dr. Innes gave a Grand Rounds lecture at UPNG’s School of Medicine on Tuesday July 25 at 4pm on Drug-resistant tuberculosis: Progress toward elimination.

The Grand Rounds are lectures given on a regular basis by UPNG faculty members every Tuesday.

Dr. Innes’ lecture presented key developments for drug-resistant TB control from the past decade.

Last October, Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray donated laboratory and clinical equipment, worth K270,000, to Daru hospital.

These are needed to fight the spread of both MDR-TB and HIV/AIDS in PNG.

These machines are helping doctors to provide quality diagnostics to their patients, and will enhance the ability to monitor for TB and HIV.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Poor HIV/AIDS Surveillance Systems in PNG

Representatives from the US Embassy held a public forum on HIV/AIDS at the National Library yesterday to mark World AIDS Day.

According to the Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting (GARPR) statistical data, PNG still has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the Pacific, and is ranked fourth in South East Asian countries.

The commemoration of the day brought to light approaches that communities, advocate groups and NGOs have adapted to produce accurate statistics in order to effectively treat HIV infected patients and bring death tolls to zero.

According to Dr. Percy Pokeya, CDC Senior Advisor, approximately 34,000 are known to be infected with the virus; 16,000 of which are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

One thing that drugs aren’t able to cure is the stigma and discrimination that HIV victims deal with every day.

Brad Coley, Economic Officer with the US Embassy, said it was the main reason for the poor state of many countries surveillance systems and PNG is no exception.

On a similar note US Ambassador, Walter North, in his speech said the government needed to do a better job of reaching key populations: sex workers, transgender people, and men who have sex with men – or with men and women.

They are at high risk for getting infected with HIV and face even higher levels of discrimination and stigma that can scare them away from treatment.

“Many of the current laws of Papua New Guinea on sexual behaviour re-enforce a cycle of exclusion and fear. There is an urgent need to review those laws and to sensitise health centre staff to the health needs of key populations,” North said.

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Joel Maybury, challenged Papua New Guineans to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS every day and not just on World AIDS Day.

He said HIV/AIDS advocates could only do so much as speak for the HIV patients forced to live in the shadows, but if many are unable to come out in fear of being ill-treated how can we stop the spread of HIV, discrimination does little to help bring this epidemic under control. EMTV

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

You cannot rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV, the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Knowing your status is important because it helps you make healthy decisions to prevent getting or transmitting HIV. The symptoms of HIV vary, depending on the individual and what stage of the disease you are in: the early stage, the clinical latency stage, or AIDS (the late stage of HIV infection). The below from AIDS.gov is some of the symptoms that some individuals may experience in these three stages. Please note that not all individuals will experience these symptoms.

Early stage HIV: Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage. Flu-like symptoms can include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and mouth ulcers. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. You should not assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any symptoms at all for 10 years or more. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test. Most HIV tests detect antibodies (proteins your body makes as a reaction against the presence of HIV), not HIV itself. But it takes a few weeks for your body to produce these antibodies, so if you test too early, you might not get an accurate test result. Talk to your doctor about your result and talk about your treatment options if you’re HIV-positive or learn ways to prevent getting HIV if you’re HIV-negative. You are at high risk of transmitting HIV to others during the early stage of HIV infection, even if you have no symptoms. For this reason, it is very important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission.

Clinical Latency Stage: After the early stage of HIV infection, the disease moves into a stage called the clinical latency stage (also called “chronic HIV infection”). During this stage, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. People with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms or only mild ones. For people who aren’t taking medicine to treat HIV (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), this period can last a decade or longer, but some may progress through this phase faster. People who are taking medicine to treat HIV the right way, every day may be in this stage for several decades because treatment helps keep the virus in check. It’s important to remember that people can still transmit HIV to others during this phase even if they have no symptoms, although people who are on ART and stay virally suppressed (having a very low level of virus in their blood) are much less likely to transmit HIV than those who are not virally suppressed.

Progression to AIDS: If you have HIV and you are not on ART, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system, and you will progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), the late stage of HIV infection. Symptoms can include: rapid weight loss, recurring fever or profuse night sweats, extreme and unexplained tiredness, prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck, diarrhoea that lasts for more than a week, sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals, pneumonia, red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids, memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.

Testing and Treatment of HIV 
Testing for HIV is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV, many people do not have any symptoms and can live for many years without knowing they have the virus. Testing for HIV is quick, easy, painless and confidential. It important that while you wait for your test results that you do not engage in any sexual activity as your results will only be current from the day you were tested. A positive result can lead to feelings of shock, anger, distress and depression, talk to your doctor about making an appointment with a counsellor to discuss your result. If your test is negative talk to your doctor to make sure you continue taking the right preventative measures. HIV is treated using a combination of medicines to fight HIV infection called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART isn’t a cure, but it can control the virus so that you can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they are. If left untreated, HIV will attack the immune system and eventually progress to AIDS. It is important that the medications prescribed by your doctor are taken exactly as prescribed (right time, right amount, and right way). If you are unsure you’re are taking your medications correctly talk to your doctor.

Source: POMGH

How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting HIV or STD

Below are few tips to reduce your risk of geeting HIV or STDs:
1. Always Practice Safe Sex: When used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV. They are also effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that are transmitted through bodily fluids, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis. Have condoms handy if you will be having sex and make sure you know how to use them correctly.
2. Use Lubricant: Condoms should always be worn and used with a water based lubricant which helps prevent condoms from breaking.
3. Get Tested Regularly: (even If you are in a monogamous relationship) and encourage your partner to do the same. If you are not at high risk for getting HIV or any STD (not having sex regularly), it is still important to get tested. Always get tested before starting a new sexual relationship and encourage your new partner to do the same.
4. Avoid Sexual Activity: If you feel you are unable to have sex safely, you should avoid all sexual activity as you may be putting yourself or others at risk. If you are unsure if you have HIV or an STD get tested. If your test has returned positive make sure to listen to your doctor’s advice on treatment and make sure you have the all-clear from your doctor before resuming sexual activity.
5. Have Sex Only Within a Mutually Monogamous Relationship: Two people who have sex only with one another don’t have any opportunity to bring a new STD into the relationship. If you and your partner have been tested and are healthy, remaining faithful to each other is a very good way to reduce your chances of contracting an STD. It is important to be comfortable talking about safe sex with your partner.
6. Never Rely on the Withdrawal Method: Pre-ejaculate of an HIV-positive man may transmit the virus, always use a condom.
7. Only Use Safe Injecting Equipment: Using unclean or sharing injecting drug equipment is one of the most efficient ways of transmitting HIV.
8. Don’t Drink or Use Drugs Before Having Sex: It’s difficult to make responsible choices about your sex life if you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol. When you are under the influence, you are more likely to choose to have sex with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have picked as a partner, and less likely to be able to successfully negotiate safer sex.
11. Be Comfortable Saying No!!!!: You should never have sex unless you want to. Get comfortable saying no. If you don’t feel it is right, that’s ok. It’s your choice to say yes to sex, and it’s also your choice to say no. Similarly, if your partner tells you no, listen.
12. Be Responsible for Your Own Protection: It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. If you’re going to have sex, you should be prepared. This is not only a matter of emotional preparation but practicality. Bring your own safer sex supplies. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have extras. If you are unsure how to use these correctly talk to your doctor.
Remember: Can you use two condoms for extra protection against STD’s and Pregnancy? No, you should never use more than one condom at a time. Using two condoms actually offers less protection than using just one. Why? Using two condoms can cause friction between them, weakening the material and increasing the chance that the condoms might break. No other method of birth control is as successful at protecting people against sexually transmitted diseases as a condom so always use a condom if you are having sex but always only use one at a time.

Source: Port Moresby General Hospital