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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

World Aids Day commerotated in NCD

The annual World AIDS Day’s was aimed at attracting attention towards the main idea and theme of the day, “ Hands up for HIV prevention - count me in”
People need to know that HIV will not suddenly disappear and that was the reason behind the march this morning in Port Moresby, organized by the Health Department and the National Aids Council Secretariat.
This was mentioned Dr Sibauk Bieb, who is also the public health manger with the National Health Department.
He said it is better to reflect back on our achievements and review our focus on the statuses of research and awareness on HIV AIDS and this should be done through a joint partnership by the private, civil society and the national organisations.
He said the Government is calling on partners to strengthen the responds to HIVAIDS in the country.
“Today the NDoH made a commitment to not only sustain their achievements but to do more to end the fight against HIV/AIDS” Dr Bieb said.
He stressed that cases are rising alongside curable diseases such as TB and this is a worry.

Speech by Health Minister, Michale MALABAG, to mark WORLD AIDS DAY 2016

December 01st every year is World AIDS Day and for Papua New Guinea (PNG) this is a very important day on our Health Calender. World AIDS reminds us of the incurable disease that has costs millions of lives throughout the world. We should be wary at all times of the disease and also let us give support to those who are living with HIV/AIDS so that they too can live a positive life.
We dedicate this day to commemorate those who have passed on and to raise awareness about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). We also want to reflect on what we have achieved with regard to the national and global response to HIV.

HIV was first diagnosed in PNG back in 1987 and the threat posed by this epidemic remains real and one that we must continue to take seriously. We have made significant inroads in terms of our response but many challenges persist and gains are still fragile. Globally, the HIV epidemic continues to remain as one of the world’s most serious health, development and social challenges and PNG is no exception.
Early PNG projections estimated that the HIV prevalence among the adult population would reach more that 5% but improvements in the scale up of our HIV testing and surveillance over the last decade has demonstrated that HIV has had limited impact across the country as a whole with the current national prevalence rate of 0.8% reported in 2015.

Further recent evidence suggests that our epidemic is concentrated in key populations with HIV prevalence among this group estimated at more than 15 times than the national average. There is also recent evidence showing the prevalence in certain provinces like the National Capital District and Highlands Provinces going over the one percent mark. This means that the epidemic is generalised in those provinces.
It is for this reason, that combating HIV remains one of our Government’s foremost and important health and development priorities as a country, even though we face many competing social and health priorities. This has been reflected in all our development plans. In fact our National HIV Strategy 2011-2015 (which is now extended to 2017) is the envy of many in the region, coupled with our Government’s decision to fully fund AIDS treatment which is regarded as international best practice by many in the global AIDS response.

Responding to HIV and AIDS is one of the major priorities of our Government and is reflected in all major policy documents. Therefore, our Government remains committed to addressing the HIV epidemic in an integrated manner. The Government has increased the overall allocation and spending on health sector to address many of the challenges faced by health system-infrastructure, human resources, aging workforce and medical supplies. These investments will no doubt improve the ability of our health system to deliver better care including HIV services across the country.
Government’s decision to fully fund antiretroviral drugs (ART) since 2010, which is regarded as global best practice, has helped reduce ART stock out and will ensure a more sustainable supply of the drugs in the future. ART is free of charge for all people living with HIV in PNG.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme is all about prevention. This is because our prevention efforts remain fragmented resulting in increases in new cases of HIV for some populations and geographic regions in the country. We know that HIV and (Sexually Transmitted Infections) STIs spread where there is money, where there is poverty and where there is violence against women and this should be the targeted areas for prevention.

Basically, all of us have a responsibility to take all steps necessary within our means to prevent the spread of HIV and to reduce its impact. This means everyone must know about HIV and how to prevent it, the importance of getting ART drugs if one is tested positive, the promotion of gender equality to reduce women’s additional vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and of course stigma and discrimination, promotion of human rights and access to justice.
I take this opportunity to thank our international donors and development partners who have helped us to fight the HIV epidemic, because without your help the PNG HIV response would not have come this far. Who knows the impact could have been worse as predicted.
Finally, as a member of the United Nations, our country is resolute on its commitment in combating the HIV and AIDS epidemic as a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals on HIV/AIDS which has ended in 2015 and now the Sustainable Development Goals on ending HIV/AIDS by 2030, which calls for the UNAIDS fast-track approach to achieve a goal of 90-90-90 by 2020, which is really about the role of treatment as prevention.

As a member of the UN General Assembly, our Government is required to put in place measures to deliver and report on these globally agreed targets. Addressing HIV and AIDS is also a key component of the PNG-Australian Partnership for Development Agreement.
On this note, I would like to thank everyone for your continued support to my Ministry and as per our World AIDS Day theme state, I urge everyone to put your hands up for HIV prevention because HIV/AIDS just like health, is everyone’s business.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Top Tips On How to Quit Smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking; these tips are from various research groups and have been identified as the best tips to quit smoking:
- Quitting is different for everyone, so find an approach that will work for you. This may be either the cold turkey approach (stopping suddenly and totally) or a more gradual reduction in the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Set a date to quit, and stick to it, however, make it sooner rather than later. Every cigarette damages your health.
- Get as much support as you can from family, friends and work colleagues. Let them know you are planning to quit and ask smokers not to smoke around you or offer you cigarettes. Quitting with a friend can also be an excellent idea this enables you to share your feelings and encourage each other to quit.
- Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking.
- Wash your clothes and clean your car and home to remove the smell of smoke.
- Nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches or chewing gum, could be a good idea for those who smoke heavily or who feel they may need the extra help. There are also oral prescription medicines you can take on advice from your doctor. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
- Plan ahead for situations in which you are likely to be tempted to smoke such as parties. Try to avoid these situations in the early stages of your quitting program.
- Write down all the reasons that made you decide to quit smoking, and carry them with you in case you need reminding!
- Avoid alcohol as many people find it hard to resist smoking when they drink.
- If you find you are losing motivation to quit, remind yourself of the many medical benefits of quitting! For example: did you know that after 1 year of quitting smoking your risk for coronary heart disease is about half that of smokers.
- Think of the financial benefits! Have you considered how much money you could save by quitting smoking and being a non-smoker? Cigarettes cost money, and the cost is increasing all the time. What could you do with all the extra money?
Keep the following 4 Ds in mind when you have a craving:
Delay: Remember that the worst cravings last for only a few minutes and will become even less frequent the longer you have quit.
Deep breathe: This should help you relax and focus your mind on something else.
Drink water: It is a good idea to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the nicotine and other toxins out of your system.
Do something else: You could go for a walk, to the movies or visit a supportive friend. Try eating an apple, chewing gum or cleaning your teeth when you would normally have a cigarette. You could hold something else, such as a pen or beads to replace the need to hold a cigarette.
Tip: Start exercising after you quit smoking! Exercise will not only act as a distraction from smoking it will release endorphins (the feel-good chemicals in your brain). This will also assist in creating new routines, help reduce nicotine cravings and get you on the road to better health. Remember that some activity is better than no activity but, before you start, it is advisable to discuss your physical activity plans with your doctor.

Source: POMGEN

Friday, November 18, 2016

PNG's only cancer machine fixed and now in use

THE cobalt machine at the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae is back in operation after almost a month.
Radiation oncology registrar Dr David Kundi told The National yesterday that the machine was fixed last weekend.
“It is the only machine serving more than 70 patients from around the country who seek radiotherapy treatment at the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae,” Kundi said.
“We are currently treating 30 radiotherapy patients in the ward while another 40 are still on the list to get treatment and there are some from other provinces yet to be notified when to get treatment.
“We are not sure if treatment to patients can be completed before the year ends because the machine is still playing up.”
Ambrose Kwaramb, manager for health facilities standard branch in Lae, said that it is the only radio therapy machine in the country.
Catherin Koni, a patient from Mendi, underwent treatment on Monday after the machine was fixed.
Her husband Allan Koni said more awareness should be conducted to inform women about this treatment. The National

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

PNG Nurses Secret ballot results in favour of strike

A declaration of the secret ballot results have been made known and members of the Papua New Guinea Health Support Workers Association (PNGHWA) have voted on an indefinite strike over pay and working conditions.

This announcement of the secret ballot was done yesterday after the final counting of votes at the Electoral Commission office at Boroko in Moresby Northeast.

According to PNGHSW general secretary Jack Suao, the secret ballot results showed that 1868 members voted in favor to go on strike while only 11 people voted not to strike.

Mr Suao confirmed that out of the 3000 financial members of the association, 2000 members cast their votes and 14 provinces conducted the secret ballot.

"We the executives of the Papua New Guinea Health Support Workers Association (PNGHWA) will now submit a one-week letter of notice to the chief executive officers of all provincial health authorities, Department of Personnel Management and the Chief Secretary’s office before proceeding for the strike action late next week.

"The strike will proceed despite Personnel Management Secretary’s call for restraining order at the National Court," he said.

He said a meeting will be held today to notify all health centre and hospitals to allow skeletal staff to man vital services while the majority of the workers are on strike.

"We have given enough time to Personnel Management to respond but our requests have gone to deaf ears and the Secretary John Kali must be blamed of the strike that will hit hard on the health service delivery nationwide," he said. Post Courier

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Take medication or die: TB survivor

TUBERCULOSIS patients have been told to take their medications or die of a preventable disease, a TB survivor has advised. Terence Moka is the executive officer to National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop. Mr Moka used the NCD TB Strategic Plan 2016-2020 launched at the NCD hall yesterday and spoke briefly about his experience with the dreaded yet curable disease TB when he contracted it in 2003. A sports personality, he contracted TB in 2003 in East Sepik and it took eight months for any health specialists to explain to him and confirm the type of diseases he had. He was tested for illnesses such as malaria and pneumonia. “For me to go through the medical checks and not find out what was wrong almost devastated me,” Mr Moka said.

NCD supports fight against TB

HEALTH Department plans to shift some of it responsibilities to National Capital District health services in preparation for the city’s Provincial Health Authority status.

Minister Michael Malabag found the launch of the National Capital District five-year tuberculosis strategic plan 2016-20 an opportune time to make the announcement and praised NCD in its away forward with its plans to fight the dreaded disease.

The provincial health authority is a unified health system that oversees management of health services.

Currently the NCD health services come under the Health Department but under the provincial health authority arrangement, all NCD urban clinics would be transferred to the NCD health services with the new Gerehu Hospital as the flagship of the authority.

Mr Malabag called for close collaboration with partners and public to fight TB because according to World Bank, loss of productivity attributed to TB was 4 to 7 per cent of some of GDP.

“Studies have shown that there is a strong association between high TB incidences and low gross national per capital income,” he said.

He said that distinguished labour capacity leaves little room for economic growth and GDP expansion that a low middle-income country such as PNG so desperately needed.

He agreed that cost of TB is a huge challenge.

This is because the average cost of standard TB treatment is K75, the average cost of single multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) treatment is K16,000 and an average cost of single cost of Extreme Resistance drug TB (XDR-TB) is K44,250. Post Courier

TB patients don’t finish treatment

PAPUA New Guinea has a long history of accessing tuberculosis drugs with poor supervision. Large proportions of patients do not finish their treatment. This was a serious concern raised yet again yesterday at another campaign and this time, a bigger one to curb the spread of the dreaded disease TB. World Health Organisation country representative Dr Pieter Van Maraan and the Health Department Deputy Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala both say that PNG has never been able to control TB which has the potential to spiral out of control. “Large proportions of patients don’t finish their treatment, poor quality diagnosis, limited capacity promptly to identity patients with drug resistance TB, overcrowded settlement and extreme poverty. All these factors contribute alarmingly to TB drug resistance situation in the nation’s capital and the country,” Dr Van Maraan said. At the National Capital District Commission’s five-year TB strategic plan (2016-20) launch yesterday, it was reported that there are 384 reported cases TB of which 146 are admitted to Port Moresby General Hospital. Some have defaulted from TB treatment regime and pose danger to community and could not be reached by NCD TB surveillance team. NCD, like Gulf and Western, is hot spot for TB and concerns have also been raised that although the nation’s capital houses 5 per cent of PNG’s population, it has a quarter of TB challenge. Health Minister Michael Malabag and NCD Governor Powes Parkop launched the plan and pledged their support to fight TB. Separately, Mr Parkop said that while there was a lot of infrastructure development and law and order programs in the city, people need to take ownership of cleanliness but it starts with individual’s health. By doing so, TB could be eradicated. Other partners that pledged support are Australian High Commission and the US Government.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Australia cuts HIV funding in PNG, future of thousands living with HIV uncertain

UP TO 10,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) face an uncertain future and thousands of women and children will be exposed to health risks after the Australian Government announced it will discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants across Papua New Guinea.

The lives of the PLHIV are prolonged when they go on antiretroviral therapy (ART) as it suppresses the virus and stops the progression of the disease that leads to full blown AIDS. However, access to that life-saving treatment will end after the Australian High Commission announced its intention to discontinue funding for recipients of HIV and reproductive health grants.

The discontinuation of funding will mean women and children loosing access to critical reproductive and child healthcare services, especially in rural and remote communities.

The Post-Courier has obtained a confidential Australian Government Briefing Note titled "The Potential Impact of Australian Government Funded Grant Closures on HIV and Reproductive Health Services in Papua New Guinea", which was prepared on October 7, 2016 and contains details on 19 NGOs and civil society organisations that will be affected by the funding cut and recommends a smooth transition.

A Papua New Guinean woman living with HIV, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper yesterday that she was not aware of the Australian Government’s funding of the life-saving medication and the discontinuation of its funding until last month. The ART has kept her alive for the last 14 years. See separate story on Page 4.

An Australian High Commission spokesperson told this newspaper yesterday that Australia is not withdrawing support from PNG’s HIV response.

"Australia is not withdrawing support from the HIV response in Papua New Guinea. All grants related to HIV/AIDS treatment will continue to the planned conclusion date of 30 June 2017, after which new arrangements will be put in place. We are working with the PNG National Department of Health and other stakeholders to help strengthen PNG’s ability to better and more sustainably deliver health services, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs," she said.

Health and HIV/AIDS Minister Micheal Malabag, who is currently in Manila for a WHO Western Regional Committee Meeting, said he has spoken to donors on the funding challenges plaguing the country’s HIV response and will address it next week when he returns.

But the response from the National Government to the looming funding shortfall will be haphazard as its lead agency – the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) – is currently at the center of a tug-of-war between NACS director Peter Bire and the council board. Email correspondence sighted by this newspaper show the board – which comprises representatives from the Department of Health, Department of National Planning, Department of Community Development, Department of Education, UN, churches and the private sector – appointed NACS research manager Tony Lupiwa acting director pending the return of Mr Malabag.

The Minister, when alerted to the standoff at the organization yesterday, said he is annoyed at the developments and will resolve it after he gets advice from the State Solicitor, the Department of Personnel Management and the Department of Health.

Mr Bire, whose contractor as director expired in March this year but continues to hold himself out as the legitimate appointee, told this newspaper that the Australian High Commission did not consult NACS and relevant State agencies before making its decision and the news is shocking.

The Australian Government Briefing Note states that there were 22,548 PLHIV receiving ART as of mid-2016 in PNG. The cessation of grants from the Australian government will affect 8-10,000 PLHIV.

Source: Post Courier

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The VScan pilot project saving lives in PNG

IT HAS been said, "Whatever there be of progress in life, comes not through adaption, but through daring." Henry Miller.

It is this "daring" to believe that the people of Papua New Guinea should have access to as much medical intervention and technology available, not just what they have always used or had, that contributed to Vscan Pilot Project of the Papua New Guinea Tribal Foundation ("Tribal Foundation").

On September 12, 2016, Dr Glen Mola wrote an opinion letter regarding the Tribal Foundation’s VScan Pilot Project. This personal opinion letter was printed in the Yu Tok section of the Post-Courier, and unfortunately was grossly inaccurate. Dr Mola’s statements attempt to undermine the hard working professionals who are on the front line serving PNG’s rural population.

Interestingly, Dr Mola has written opinions not based on any first hand experience with the Vscans. Our partners at the project hospitals and health centres cannot recall ever having a visit by Dr Mola, nor has he been involved in the project, so his information is significantly lacking and created from facts unknown to any of the participants in this progressive project.

By way of background, the VScan is an innovative ultrasound device that was designed by General Electric (GE), especially for rural healthcare providers, and has in fact been introduced in other developing countries with great success. The VScan is designed to enhance capabilities of properly trained healthcare providers and is portable, robust, and relatively simple to use. It is especially useful for assessing pregnant women, but is also quite capable of detecting bone fractures, internal bleeding, and other ailments often treated in rural PNG. GE donated the use of eight VScan Units for a two year pilot project the Tribal Foundation has been conducting in partnership with the Enga Provincial Health Authority.

Mola’s suggestion that Tribal Foundation placed the "medical toy" in the hands of untrained HEOs who are now "keeping them in their houses where they are used to perform private scans" would be laughable if it were not such an insult to General Electric, The Tribal Foundation, Enga Provincial Health Authority, the five local doctors (one is a surgeon) two midwives, two well trained HEOs, and a missionary nurse, who are directly involved in the project.

His letter was also an insult to Tribal Foundation’s own medical directors and global health experts, Professor Hauswald (ED Physician) and Professor Kerr (OB/GYN Physician) who both spent a month in Enga Province last year introducing the project and providing training to the healthcare providers.

As a matter of policy, the Tribal Foundation always seeks to place Papua New Guineans in charge of our projects, and provide international support when needed.

In the case of the VScan Pilot Project, we placed a local doctor in Enga in charge of the project, supported by a local health administrator, and further supported by our medical directors, Drs Hauswald and Kerr. The two-year pilot, or test, project has already proven to be a success, and we recently received a report from Drs Hauswald and Kerr from their one year follow up visit to Enga Province, that detailed how the VScan has enhanced services and saved lives. GE has also recently sent members of their organisation to assess progress.

As should come as no surprise, additional training was identified by both Tribal Foundation and GE. When there is a taste of positive results and what a piece of technology such as the VScan can provide to the people of Papua New Guinea, of course a natural reaction is "how can we do more with this device?" Towards this end, ongoing training has always been a part of the pilot project.

Long before Dr Mola’s "opinions" both GE and Tribal have planned to provide additional training this year. Furthermore, the local healthcare providers have given feedback to GE on how they can improve the VScan to make it more usable, especially while on patrol.

Last week I completed my own follow up visit to Enga Province where I met with healthcare providers who are quite happy with the VScan, and reported that it has greatly improved their ability to assess patients. An unexpected benefit is that fathers are attending prenatal visits with their wives so they too can see their unborn children and as a result of this experience, are reported to be more supportive during pregnancy. I also met with Mr Aaron Luai, CEO of Enga Provincial Health Authority, as well as Governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, who are both quite pleased with the project and the successes todate.

A few days after Dr Mola’s misleading letter to the Post-Courier we received this photograph and brief report from a missionary nurse who is using the VScan at a remote clinic in Gulf Province that the Tribal Foundation supports.

"VScan by GE has improved our care of patients! Yesterday we visualised a shattered ulna, broken radius, and today ruled out a broken leg. Thank you PNG Tribal Foundation."

I have found that new ideas are sometimes difficult and threatening to people. I recall when I was the president of Samaritan Aviation and my team and I were setting up the floatplane operation in the East Sepik Province. A few old timers from PNG’s aviation industry said a medical floatplane operation would never work. They soon became silent once the first lives were saved and later became supporters when the operation was proven to be a success. Just like them, Dr Mola is welcome to his own opinion, but he is not welcome to make up his own facts about Tribal Foundation’s project.

My mother is a nurse who served rural PNG as a health professional for twenty-five years. I grew up playing around remote health centres where my mother treated many patients. She is retired now but when she learned of the VScan she said; "I sure wish we had that device back in my day. It would have saved a lot of lives."

The Tribal Foundation is not new to rural health and has provided millions of Kina in medical supplies to PNG’s rural health centres and hospitals.

Rather than taking pot shots from the comforts of Port Moresby (maski lo gespaia nabaut) we suggest Dr Mola go on patrol with some of the dedicated and welltrained, local healthcare providers whose ability and integrity he publicly questioned. What he will find is hardworking professionals, with very few resources,who are out sacrificing every day to serve PNG’s rural population. With the VScan, they now have a tool that has already proven to be useful. This project is not about "medical toys" it is about saving lives and contrary to Mola’s misinformation, lives are being saved.

The author is the president of the non-profit organisation PNG Tribal Foundation.

Cancer fundraising event launched

THE annual Pink Ribbon Brunch has been launched in Port Moresby to promote awareness on women’s cancer in October.

The Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) announced the return of The Pink Ribbon Brunch, to be hosted on Friday 28th October in Port Moresby.

The annual Pink Ribbon Brunch was launched by the national sales manager of National Finance Ltd John Dickinson

“National Finance Ltd is so proud to be the new sponsor of PNG Cancer Foundation’s 2016 Pink Ribbon Brunch” Mr Dickinson said.

“The Pink Ribbon Brunch will be held at Laguna Hotel and we invite all our supporters to join us to raise as much money as possible to raise awareness on women’s cancer and provide education and support for the women and families affected by it,” he said.

PNG Cancer Foundation will use the funds from this event to educate the people of PNG on how to protect their families from cancer, provide free cancer screening and workshops at various locations around the country, and work with partner organisations to improve cancer control in the country.

PNGCF chief executive officer Dadi Toka Jr said that next month the foundation will host activities that address women’s cancers in PNG.

“Current statistics indicate that two women are dying every day from cervical cancer in PNG and 9 per cent of hospital admissions in Port Moresby are a result of patients diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Protect your family. Don’t smoke, don’t chew betelnut, reduce your alcohol intake, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly” he said.

Mr Toka expressed appreciation to National Finance Ltd for actively being involved in the work of PNG Cancer Foundation.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Battling TB on the frontline in PNG

By Larissa Tuohy, Communications Manager, ChildFund Australia

For Papua New Guinean health worker Celestine I’Ova, tackling the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic in her country has become somewhat of a personal crusade, after losing both of her parents to TB and contracting the disease herself.

More than 9,000 people have died from TB in PNG over the past three years – including hundreds of children – and it is people like Celestine working on the frontline who urgently need support to tackle this terrible but treatable disease.

“I always wanted to help sick people get better, but I never wanted to work with TB patients. I was afraid I would catch it,” says Celestine.  Celestine is a health worker at a small rural clinic in Papua New Guinea’s Central Province.

The clinic is a basic shack, typical of many across PNG. There are just six staff to provide support for around 15,000 people, some of them travelling six hours by boat for medical attention.

Despite having over 20 years of frontline experience as a community health worker, TB has always held a particular terror for Celestine. Both of her parents died from the disease, and she admits avoiding TB patients for years afterwards.

“I did not want to learn how to treat TB patients,” she says. “Also, with the deteriorating health facilities and lack of resources at our health centre, I felt it was not safe for us. When TB patients came, I never stood in front of them or spoke to them; I always moved away from the patients.”

In PNG, however, TB is a growing epidemic. Over the past three years, it has killed 9,000 people in the Pacific island nation, with children particularly susceptible to the most disabling forms of the disease. By comparison, the Ebola virus, which galvanised such international fear and concern, killed 11,300 people globally in the same period.

ChildFund Australia – which has launched a report on the TB epidemic and its devastating impact on children – has been working in Papua New Guinea for the past 20 years, stepping up efforts to reduce the spread of TB since 2013.

“Tuberculosis is an entirely preventable and curable disease,” says ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “It is absolutely critical that health workers in rural areas have the right tools and knowledge to prevent and treat the disease, and to raise awareness about the importance of early medical intervention.”

ChildFund is among several organisations playing a critical role in training and equipping health workers to detect TB early and ensure patients complete their full course of treatment.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Over 700 nurses in PNG stop work despite dialogue

ABOUT 700 nurses from the National Capital District, Alotau and Mendi in Papua New Guinea walked off their jobs yesterday despite their union executives’ announcement to call off a stop-work to allow for a dialogue with the Government.
Those in Alotau (about 100) and Mendi (about 400) in Southern Highlands said they went ahead because they had not heard otherwise from their union executives.
PNG Nurses Association Port Moresby branch president Rosemary Bates told The National that 200 members had decided to go ahead with the protest despite the association’s decision to cancel the stop-work.
Bates said members covering the Port Moresby General Hospital, NCD Health, Department of Health, Laloki and PNG Defence Force decided to go ahead with the stop-work because they were not happy with comments by Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali and Industrial Registrar Helen Saleu that their action would not be illegal. “It was the members’ decision and they all assembled at the nurses association building at 8am where they waited for the outcome of the meeting by the Government,” Bates said.
“Our president Steven Nawik told us to wait for the outcome of the decision but the members decided to go ahead as planned.”
Alotau and Mendi nurses also withdrew their services yesterday because they said there was no formal advice from the officials so they maintained their stand to walk off their jobs.
Alotau president Grace Mark confirmed that more than 100 nurses stopped work yesterday and had gathered at the union office awaiting response from their union officials.
“Our members were adamant about going ahead with the stop-work because we did not get any official notice from the union executives,” Mark said.
“Our chief executive officer for Alotau General Hospital was informed of our actions because it is a long-awaited issue and the nurses are confident about taking necessary action.
“We will return tomorrow (today) and continue our stop-work until we get a response from the union executives.”
Mendi branch president Benedict Laba said 400-plus nurses stopped work yesterday as planned.
He said that the nurses were from Hela and Southern Highlands provincial health services.
Association general secretary Edward Foe said the NCD nurses decided to stop work and it was beyond its control.
“It’s their decision to walk out of work and we really don’t have much control over that,” Foe said.   The National

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Scientists say making babies without eggs may be possible

Scientists say early experiments suggest it may one day be possible to make babies without using eggs.

They have succeeded in creating healthy baby mice by tricking sperm into believing they were fertilising normal eggs.

The findings in Nature Communications, could, in the distant future, mean women can be removed from the baby-making process, say the researchers.

For now, the work helps to explain some of the details of fertilisation.

End of mum and dad?

The University of Bath scientists started with an unfertilised egg in their experiments.

They used chemicals to trick it into becoming a pseudo-embryo.

These "fake" embryos share much in common with ordinary cells, such as skin cells, in the way they divide and control their DNA.

The researchers reasoned that if injecting sperm into mouse pseudo-embryos could produce healthy babies, then it might one day be possible to achieve a similar result in humans using cells that are not from eggs.

In the mouse experiments, the odds of achieving a successful pregnancy was one in four.

Dr Tony Perry, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: "This is the first time that anyone has been able to show that anything other than an egg can combine with a sperm in this way to give rise to offspring.

"It overturns nearly 200 years of thinking."

Those baby mice were healthy, had a normal life expectancy and had healthy pups of their own.


The goal of the researchers is to understand the exact mechanisms of fertilisation because what happens when a sperm fuses with an egg is still a bit of a mystery.

For example, the egg completely strips the sperm's DNA of all its chemical clothing and re-dresses it.

That stops the sperm behaving like a sperm and makes it act like an embryo, but how the "costume change" takes place is not clear.

Removing the need for an egg could have a wider impact on society.

Dr Perry said: "One possibility, in the distant future, is that it might be possible that ordinary cells in the body can be combined with a sperm so that an embryo is formed."

In other words, two men could have a child, with one donating an ordinary cell and the other, sperm.

Or one man could have his own child using his own cells and sperm - with that child being more like a non-identical twin than a clone.

Dr Perry stressed that such scenarios were still "speculative and fanciful" at this stage.

Earlier this year in China, scientists were able to make sperm from stem cells and then fertilise an egg to produce healthy mice.

Dr Perry suggested that combining the two fields of research may eventually do without the need for sperm and eggs altogether.

Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, from the Francis Crick Institute, commented: "I'm not surprised that the authors are excited about this.

"I think it is a very interesting paper, and a technical tour de force and I am sure it will tell us something important about reprogramming at these early steps of development that are relevant to both fertilisation and single cell nuclear transfer [cloning].

"And, perhaps more broadly, about reprogramming of cell fate in other situations.

"It doesn't yet tell us how, but the paper gives a number of clear pointers."

Source:  BBC

New clinic opens at Lae ward

LAE businessman Sir Bob Sinclair yesterday opened a new clinic at the Ward Two council area.
The Sir Bob Sinclair Clinic will serve people in Ward Two who had been travelling to the city to seek medical treatment there.
The building cost more than K350,000.
Sir Bob said saving lives was important.
“And I thought if I am going to do something constructive and is going to save lives, here is an opportunity. Today, we see the fruits of Sir Bob Sinclair Clinic. And if the clinic can save one life, everyone would be all happy.”
He promised to maintain the clinic “to the day I die”.
Ward councillor Carol Yawing said her ward was the last in the Lae Urban Local Level Government to have a health centre.
“You would not go looking for treatment in other health centres if you are sick, because the health centre is at your doorsteps,” she said.
Yawing paid tribute to former ward councillor Michael Koi who initiated the idea of the health centre. The National

Monday, September 12, 2016

Breast Cancer in Papua New Guinea

Dr Waine is PNG’s leading expert on the liver, pancreas and breast cancer surgery. He is internationally certified by the International Hepato Biliary Pancreas Association (IHPBA) and a visiting fellow on liver cancer research at Singapore General Hospital. Dr Waine has a MD (Doctor of Medicine) from Auckland University (2013) where he remains a research fellow. He completed his EMST (Early Management of Severe Trauma), CCRiSP (Care of the Critically ill Surgical Patient) and Diploma in Emergency Surgery at Melbourne’s Royal College of Surgeons in 2010, and Master of Surgery (MMED) from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in 2008. His special interests are in breast cancer surgery and oncology research, and he believes in promoting awareness and advocating for access to much needed services. His research has led him to present at global cancer events at the the universities of Washington, Stanford, San Francisco and recently at the 2016 World Liver and Transplant conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His next major presentation will be on Liver Cancer at the University of George Washington, Washington DC, next year. Amidst his busy schedule, Dr Waine still makes time for community health awareness and conducts free clinical checks in rural areas whenever he can. This includes climbing PNG’s highest mountain, Mt Wilhelm, to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer, and walking the Kokoda Track for Cervical Cancer. He has been the US Embassy Port Moresby’s Keynote Speaker at their annual PNG Women’s Forums and World Cancer Day events. He loves the ocean, the underwater war relics of East New Britain Province and is a certified scuba diver since 2010. Currently, Dr Waine is the senior lecturer in surgery at UPNG’s school of medicine and health sciences, and honorary specialist surgeon at Port Moresby General Hospital where he is in charge of the country’s largest surgical unit.

Building A Healthy PNG

Breast Cancer in Papua New Guinea has taken such a dramatic shift in pattern unlike any seen in other parts of the world. In the last five years alone, I’ve witnessed and experienced first-hand this pattern turn into a marathon: a race against time; age; stage of cancer progression; acceptance; and proper treatment.

A major challenge in my line of work is that too often, women present at a late stage of cancer making treatment difficult. Often times, it is too late for surgery and the most we can do is help relieve their pain and suffering through palliative care - an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness. Today, breast cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the country.

As an honorary surgeon at Port Moresby General Hospital, my team and I see on average about 40 new patients every Monday morning during our clinical checks. A quarter of these patients will usually present a breast problem – usually a lump, an ulcer or they come with macerated, large breasts. Data I’ve recorded over the last five years indicate that 60 per cent of these patients have cancer. This means out of every ten patients with a breast problem, six of them will have cancers while the other four will have some other infection or disease.

I often ask myself "why this rapid progression? Perhaps there were no proper recording systems in the past? Have lifestyles changed so drastically?" But even more alarming is the younger, fertile, age-group of women presenting with breast cancer. Many are urban dwelling, working-class between the ages of 25 and 35. The youngest breast cancer patient I have treated is an 18-year-old from the Central Province.

Her right side breast was extremely large, covering almost half of her body and almost half of her body weight. She admitted using traditional herbs as her initial means of (self) treatment - a common practice among many Papua New Guineans and that has not been helpful in the treatment of breast cancers, as was in her case. There are four stages to treatment of breast cancer.

My area of treatment care is usually the first stage and that is surgery or an operation called Mastectomy (the removal of the breast in the advanced stage).

This particular issue is usually contested, and often times we never get it solved on the first visit. In fact, I usually ask for their partners or husbands to come together in the next visit so we can discuss further, but the solution is never clear cut as is the up-hill battle that usually follows.

Then there is the pattern of late presentations to the hospital. Women tend to wait until their breast lumps are bigger in size or when they see a second lump on the same breast or in their armpit.

Others come to see me when their lump breaks open and becomes an ulcer. In clinical terms, it means they have advanced into a later stage of their disease progress and this often has detrimental outcomes.

Like the 18 year old Central woman, many women chose to use traditional herbs as their first form of treatment before they seek help at the hospital. By then, it is often too late, with the survival rate of late stages being at 5 per cent.

The next stages are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and then hormonal treatment. The struggle along with the duration, referral system, personal logistics and resources involved in a complete treatment can become a burden itself to the patient and her family, which has resulted in many defaulters. They stop treatment halfway or three quarters of the way, which can cause the cancer to re-appear (recurrence).

It is never easy losing a patient to death. But I have lost patients half way through their treatment due to some of the factors above.Most, if not all of these cases, can be prevented if treated at an early stage.

Nonetheless, I continue to do the work I love to do without bouncing into discussion over the national policy on cancer and the state of cancer services in our beautiful country.

Although statistics has its place in public health policy, individual breast cancer patient responses and their quest to win the cancer battle is often a personal event, which typically extends into the immediate family and may include my team of nurses and doctors.

At the end of my contact with my patients, I advise each of them to eat healthy food, avoid smoking, avoid alcohol and betel nut, and to exercise regularly.

Cancer is categorised under Non-Communicable Diseases, also known as lifestyle diseases. Lead a healthy lifestyle, with healthy habits – and you can prevent getting cancer.

To conclude, I appeal to all our women: please have your breasts examined by an expert health practitioner, your nurse or doctor. Your doctor should be able to refer you early if there is any suspicion or doubt of cancer. Every individual person must be vigilant with what goes on in their body. Let’s make it all our individual right and fight to have a healthy life so we can build not just ourselves, but our families, our communities and this wonderful country we call home – Papua New Guinea.

World First Aid Day - September 10th, 2016

World First Aid Day was instituted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 2000 and has been celebrated each year ever since.
The term “first aid” refers to the assistance given to anyone suffering a sudden injury or illness. Its main goals are to preserve life and prevent the condition from worsening. It is not always performed by medical personnel. In emergency situations, ordinary people often have to perform first aid to save someone's life.
First aid does not necessarily require any prior knowledge and can involve improvisation. However, if the person performing first aid doesn't know what they are doing, they might hurt instead of helping. That is why the IFRC encourages people to undergo basic first aid training or at least educate themselves using any available reliable sources.
World First Aid Day aims at raising awareness of how first aid can prevent injuries and save lives in everyday and crisis situations, as well as at promoting the accessibility of the first aid. POMGEN

Port Moresby General Hospital has new Children's Emergency Department

Port Moresby General Hospital has converted some of its Children’s Outpatient Clinic into a Children’s Emergency Department.
Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Grant. R. Muddle, said the facility was converted in June 2015 to treat children’s emergency referral cases from urban clinics, private clinics, and Central province clinics including Gulf province.
“The children’s serious health conditions are now being treated separately from adults so quality care and treatment are given to them as well, specialized pediatric emergency nurses are dealing with pediatric emergency cases” Mr. Muddle said.
This separation will also reduce the cross infection that might occur from adults to children.
The Children’s emergency Department operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with Community Health Worker (CHW), nurses and doctors treating sick children who come all over the city. This is NOT a Children’s Outpatient Clinic open 24 hours per day, it is an Emergency Department.
Health Minister Hon. Michael Malabag was impressed with the set up and the cleanliness when he visited the facility last week.
“This separation of child care from adult wards and providing treatment for these children at its own clinic is exceptionally good,” Hon. Michael Malabag said.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


YWAM’s Medical Ship, the MV Pacific Link, has just completed a successful deployment to Madang Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The MV Pacific Link and her team of volunteers visited villages throughout Bogia, Sumkar, Madang and Rai Coast districts over the course of 8 months. Over 48,000 healthcare and training services were delivered, valued at over 4.6 million PGK.

The MV Pacific Link’s Director, Mr Brett Curtis, said that the MV Pacific Link’s first voyage to Madang Province was very special.

“Thousands of lives have been impacted over the last 8 months, including a woman named Luweng from Kar Kar Island, who had a pterygium (tissue growth) on her eye. Luweng’s sight dramatically improved after an eye surgery in our onboard operating theatre.
“Luweng could not stop saying thank you to our surgeon after the patch was removed the next day. It is easy to forget how much we rely on our vision until we meet someone who has lost it, it was wonderful to witness Luweng’s new lease on life.
“We are very grateful for the volunteers who joined us from around the world, our generous donors and Madang Provincial Health for partnering with us in making this voyage such a success,” said Mr Curtis.
Other field activities delivered over the last 8 months include over 5,803 immunisations, 1,294 dentistry procedures and health promotion delivered to 5,293 people.

Madang Province Director of Health, Mr Markus Kachau, said that the collaboration with YWAM Medical Ships has strengthened healthcare delivery in Madang Province.
“Our partnership with YWAM has been a great support in helping to achieve the objectives outlined in our health plan. Our health workers have been able to work with the YWAM Medical Ships healthcare volunteers in delivering both essential and specialised health services to some of our province’s most remote areas.

“I’m very grateful for this partnership that has been established – I hope that this voyage is just the beginning of much more to come,” said Mr Kachau.
Key stakeholders will be hearing a first-hand report from the outreach aboard the MV Pacific Link in Madang port throughout this week before she sets sail for her maiden voyage to Wewak.
YWAM's second medical ship, the MV YWAM PNG, will be returning to Papua New Guinea in October for an eight-month deployment throughout the Southern region and Huon Gulf.

Nurses in Papua New Guinea warn of stop work

NURSES have threatened to stage a stop-work from Wednesday if the Government fails to implement an agreement it signed with the union.
PNG Nurses Association (PNGNA) acting president Steven Nawik said the Government had ignored the agreement it reached with the nurses.
“We want to advise the public that nurses serving in rural health facilities, from community health posts to health centres, provincial hospitals and the four regional referral hospitals will withdraw services on Wednesday,” Nawik said.
The association last November had asked the Government parties to sign the 2011-2013 log of claims which had expired.
It made a submission to the Government for the review but was turned down.
The agreement by Papua New Guinea Nurses Association, Personnel Management and Health department is supposed to look at pay increases, a work value study to be conducted on all nurses throughout the country and it calls for an establishment of a housing committee.
He said they had written to the department and submitted a proposal to the Health Department to start the work value study in January this year but it never eventuated.
“I must make it very clear that PNGNA has followed all processes and procedures,” he said.
“We have written to the industrial registrar to hold a secret ballot. Until now, we have not got a response from industrial registrar’s office.”
He said they met Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari in July who said they were working on a schedule for implementation.
“They gave us an assurance that due to the current financial situation, they would draw up a schedule for the implementation process,” he said. The National

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Smoking claiming 4000 lives annually in Papua New Guinea

Over 4000 Papua New Guineans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Port Moresby-based WHO country representative Dr Pieter Van Maaren said this when speaking at a school yesterday to mark World No Tobacco Day celebrations.

“Every year in PNG studies have shown that more than 4600 of its people are killed by tobacco-caused disease, while more than 1,091,000 children and more than 1,658,000) adults continue to use tobacco each day,” he said.

The country has the highest tobacco consumption rate in the western Pacific region with 44 per cent of the population smoking, which is a statistic that Papua New Guineans should not be proud of. 

He encouraged warned students throughout the country that smoking at an early age is unhealthy and will have an effect on their health in the future.

“We know that cigarette smoking has a strong appeal among young people and school aged children. And social pressure to smoke is strong to many young minds these days. For many smokers, the thrill of smoking by buying cigarettes under age and smoking them at school seems to be part of the appeal of cigarettes.”

The country’s increasing youth population and aggressive marketing strategies employed by tobacco companies will lead to a rise in tobacco consumption, unless Papua New Guineans took action to address it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hospital receives water tanks

 SAINT Mary’s Vunapope Hospital in East New Britain has received three Tuffa water tanks to assist them store clean water for patients.
Kokopo Vunamami Urban LLG in Kokopo district presented the three 5000 litre water tanks to the hospital on Wednesday.

When presenting the tanks to the hospital, Kokopo city manager Freddy Lemeki said the hospital had requested for the water tanks.

He said it had taken a while for the LLG to purchase the tanks because of funding reasons.
“To fund projects within Kokopo Vunamami Urban LLG is very difficult especially at this time when everyone is stuck with finances,” he said.
Lemeki said the tanks cost K13,000.

There are two main hospitals in the province. Vunapope hospital is run by the Catholic mission and Nonga Base General Hospital is run by the government.

Deputy Director Nursing Services Sr Josepha Bini when addressing the occasion, said the Vunapope hospital had been serving the people of ENB and New Guinea Islands region for the last 85 years.
She said it was the first time the hospital had submitted a request to Kokopo-Vunamami ULLG in 2014 for six water tanks to supplement the hospital’s water supply.
She said water issues at the hospital was an ongoing issue due to technical problems with the aging water pump and standby generator.

“We see this presentation of water tanks as timely to our needs. Thank you KVULLG for your support.”

PNG seeks help to end Aids epidemic

 Minister for Health Michael Malabag says HIV/AIDS is a development issue in Papua New Guinea and development partners must work with PNG to address it.
Malabag said during the recent United Nations Leaders’ Summit on HIV/AIDS in New York there have been some administrative and legislative reforms done to address HIV/AIDS since it was included as a development issue in the country.
Papua New Guinea has one of the most serious HIV/AIDS epidemics in the Asia-Pacific subregion.
A high incidence of sexual aggression, violence against women, the impact of alcohol and drugs are just some of the reasons for the level of HIV infection in the country.
He said lack of resources, cultural differences and discrimination were challenges faced in fighting this issue.
He called on development partners to work with Papua New Guinea in ending the epidemic and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Leaders at the summit made a commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the SDGS.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), PNG has the worst health status in the Pacific region. PNG ranks 157 out of 187 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index, worst than Bangladesh and Myanmar.
This political declaration at the UN AIDS Summit comes alongside significant gains in providing life-saving medication to patients.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Panadol recalled by Australian authorities not on sale in PNG

 THE children’s medicine recalled by Australian authorities are not on sale in Papua New Guinea, according to a survey carried out by the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia on May 19 recalled the children’s 200ml Panadol because an ingredient used in its manufacture of “can potentially cause a low risk allergic reactions in some children”.
Commissioner Paulus Ain said: “The batch numbers of the affected products are 136418 (strawberry flavour), 136444 (strawberry flavour) and 136443 (orange flavour).
He said the commission carried out the inspection to determine to “impose a compulsory product recall”.
The commission has the power to do that under the Independent Consumer and Competition Act 2002.
The commission inspected pharmacies and shops in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo and Goroka and did not find the recalled medicine.

PNG Health Minister Michael Malabag backs churches roles

Papua New Guinea Health Minister Michael Malabag says funding for the Christian Health Services budget will be addressed because their role is important in the health sector.

Malabag thanked the Church health services, non-government organisations and stakeholders during the national health conference for helping the Government in providing health services.
“We believe in the correlation between healthy citizens and development in all its facets,” he said.
“We believe that an individual’s productivity is really dependent on his or her health status. That is why health will remain high on the agenda.”

He said the Government was making free primary health care and subsidised specialist services a reality by improving accessibility.

Malabag told health leaders and managers to implement plans and visions of the department so they could reduce the number of deaths and increase the lifespan of people from 54 to 70.
“I understand that factors such as late disbursement of funds, our rugged terrain, a fragmented health system, shortage of manpower and other determinants of health add to the challenge of providing health services in PNG,” he said.

Malabag said the challenges meant health leaders must be smarter and more resilient in the delivery of health services to the people.

Monday, June 13, 2016

How to Protect Yourself From Gonorrhea

Weekly Health Advice from PMGH – Protect Yourself From Gonorrhea - Part 3 of 3

Top Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Getting an STD

While the best way to avoid an STD is not to have sex. It is important for those who are sexually active always to use protection. No matter your sexuality, unprotected sex can cause serious sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) such as chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea and HIV. It is important to always:

Practice Safe Sex: Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom for all sexual activities reduces the risk of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and HIV transmission. Condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STD however they will greatly reduce your risk.
Get Tested Regularly: Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, encourage your partner to do the same. If you are not at high risk for getting an STD (not having sex regularly), it is still important to get tested. Always get an STD test before starting a new sexual relationship and if you’re being treated for an STD. It is important to complete treatment before resuming sexual activity, or you and your partner could end up passing it back and forth. Seek early advice if you notice oral, genital or anal sores after recent sexual contact.
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 an STD get tested.

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 good way to reduce your chances of contracting an STD.
Talk to Your Partner: It is important to be comfortable talking about safe sex with your partner as well as STD testing. Be sure to tell your partner if you are having a sexual relationship with someone else and ask your partner the same.

Don’t Drink or Use Drugs Before Having Sex: It’s difficult to make responsible choices about your sex life if you’re using alcohol or drugs. When 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. If you do plan to drink alcohol use other substances, make up your mind beforehand what you want to do. Stick with your plan.
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.

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. Bring your own safer sex supplies, the worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have extras. (it’s important to note that the birth control pill will not protect you from STD’s). The decision to make your sex life safer is the first and most important step in reducing your risk of STDs.

New TB machine to boost efficiency in PNG

THE Oil Search Foundation has facilitated training for Kikori Hospital staff on the use of a machine which tests sputum to confirm whether a person has tuberculosis.
Manas Sukumara, a specialist biomedical technician at the Meddent Medical Services, calibrated the GeneXpert machine and trained hospital staff on how to operate and maintain it.
The machine will be used for diagnosing TB by detecting DNA in TB bacteria in sputum samples in less than two hours. It will also be used to detect drug-resistant TB.
Hospital administrator Larry Kaipu thanked Oil Search for assisting the District Health Services and Gulf Christian Services.
“Current statistics show that two to three cases of TB are diagnosed daily. This is a real cause for concern,” he said.
“Being able to take full advantage of the GeneXpert machine will boost our efficiency as it reduces the waiting time for results from weeks to hours in diagnosing TB and drug-resistant TB.”
“This is a vital step in helping us achieve optimal standard of care for our patients in line with the national plan in tackling TB in PNG,” he said.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Health workers in Gulf told to look outside of funding constraints

Health workers in Gulf Province should not use financial constraints as an excuse for not delivering efficient and effective health service, rather must manage this risk factor.
Deputy Gulf Provincial Administrator Policy Advisory and Economic Service Emanuel Xavier made this remarks at the closure of the second phase of the National Health Service Standard workshop recently in Kerema.
“We should not say money and funding all the time. Money is an issue but it is not “the “issue. Let us be managers. Risk management is one thing that you all must do.
“I always hear complains that there are no funds or the funds came in late and has been reduced. Are we new to this, it is time we stop complaining about funds and start managing risk.
“We have national chief clinicians coming here to train you; we have a very good and effective social corporate partner, Oil Search Foundation who has made this workshop possible. With all this given to support you, you must now take ownership and manage your risks. Find a way around doing things to produce positive outcome,” Mr Xavier said.
He added that the two workshops conducted has trained the workers to be managers and therefore they must put into practice what they have learnt.
Meanwhile Oil Search Foundation field supervisor Chris Taput reassured the Kikori District health workers of the Foundation continuous support for their health activities.“"As a Socially Responsible Cooperate citizen Oil Search thru the Oil Search Foundation will continue to support the strengthening of Gulf health systems. We funded the NHSS to improve service delivery and health outcomes for the people of the Gulf. Working in partnership is critical to achieving the National health plan objectives and goals.”. Taput added

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cancer survivor in PNG strives to assist cancer patients

Imagine if your doctor told you that you could no longer sit on a toilet bowl and relieve yourself because your digestive organs were are affected by cancer and need to be removed. While on that thought imagine again if your doctor went on further to tell you that instead he would create a hole on your stomach permanently as means to remove solid body waste? This was the fate of 15 years bowel cancer (Colorectal Cancer) survivor Mrs Janet Yaki from Southern Highlands Province who went all the way to Bangkok to receive this life saving surgery.
Mrs Yaki, the founder and interim president of Papua New Guinea Stoma Association was a speaker at a recent cancer fundraising event for the PNG Cancer Foundation. She spoke to a group of people especially young people who gathered for a video gaming event organized by the 675 Gaming to raise funds for PNG Cancer Foundation saying people living with cancer concerning the reproductive and digestive system are reluctant to speaking up because of shame and stigma and there is a need for more awareness in the country. Mrs Yaki works closely with Port Moresby General Hospital and other main hospitals in the country to supply specialised bags to stoma patients. Although she has less funding she says everyday is a gift to survive and appreciate the gift of life by helping others to survive too. PNGFM

Friday, April 15, 2016

No vaccine for dengue, Zika viruses

THERE is no available vaccination for dengue and zika viruses globally, according to the Health Department.
Retesting by the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) concluded that zika has been in the country since May last year at least, but never been diagnosed, Health Department secretary Pasco Kase said.
Kase said that at a media conference in Port Moresby yesterday.
“There is also no outbreak in PNG like the kind being experienced by other countries, particularly those in South America,” Kase said.
He said the Health Department had conferred with the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) that retested some blood samples from patients with fever symptoms since 2014.
“The conclusion was that Zika has been present in PNG since at least May 2015 but has never been diagnosed,” Kase said.
“This is because it is generally a mild illness and because of its similarity to other diseases such as malaria and dengue.”
He said there were also no detected cases of Zika in the city.
Kase has called on everybody around the country to make sure that their backyards were cleaned and not breeding mosquitoes.
“Old tins, cans, water bottles, tyres and other rubbish around your house should be thrown away,” he said.
“Anything that could create a home for mosquitoes should immediately be destroyed so that no one person is likely to get the zika virus.”
Kase also called on health authorities to lead as an example and clean their backyards.
“All of us sitting here should be the ones going back home and doing exactly what we talk about every day to the media,” he said. The National

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Papua New Guinea needs expat doctors

MORE foreign doctors will be recruited to cater for the current shortage in the country, Health Department secretary Pascoe Kase says.
He said the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) School of Medicine was not producing enough doctors, forcing the department to recruit foreign doctors as an interim measure.
“We have been recruiting doctors from overseas for many years but we want to increase the numbers to help the critical shortage,” Kase told The National yesterday.
He said the department was working with the UPNG to advocate for good funding to educate more doctors.
“We want the university to increase their capacity to train more doctors,” Kase said.
“So this means that we have to go abroad and engage nurses and doctors to come and help out in our hospitals and deliver health services to our people while we negotiate for more money to build up the capacity of the university to train more doctors.
“Just like the nurses, we found money so we pumped it into the nursing schools and they have expanded the classrooms, the machines and the dormitories and they can now cater for extra students.”
He said nursing schools came under the department so it was easier to allocate funds.
“But the university’s medical school does not come under the Health Department, it comes under University of PNG council and they manage their budget through the university council,” Kase said.
“So we in Health would very much advocate for them to be funded a bit more so that the capacity of the medical school can be increased to take more students, maybe a hundred or even 200.
“But that’s an issue that we are still discussing.”
Kase said a technical team would be sent to Cuba or India where PNG could engage doctors that were trained under the British system and who understood the country’s needs.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What is Malaria?

Welcome to another health update from the Port Moresby General Hospital.

With World Malaria Day this month on April 25, we wanted to share with you some useful information on malaria. Understand your risk, see your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and follow guidelines for prevention.

For more information, please contact

What is malaria?
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes called "malaria vectors".

Five parasite species cause malaria in humans, and two of these species; P. falciparum and P. vivax, pose the greatest threat.

The P. falciparum is the most prevalent malaria parasite on the African continent and is responsible for most malaria-related deaths globally. The P. vivax has a wider distribution than P. falciparum and predominates in many countries outside of Africa. 

The mosquitoes which transmit malaria commonly fly from dusk to dawn and preventative measures are especially recommended during this time to reduce your risk of transmission. People who get malaria typically become very sick with flu-like symptoms however, it can be fatal if not promptly treated.

In severe cases (severe malaria) cerebral malaria (abnormal behaviour, impairment of consciousness, seizures and coma), severe anaemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, abnormalities in blood coagulation, cardiovascular collapse and kidney failure can occur, which is a medical emergency. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented by taking a few precautions and seeking help quickly if malaria is suspected. 

Who is at risk?
According to world Health Organization (WHO), about 3.2 billion people (almost half of the world’s population) are at risk of malaria.

While anyone can get malaria, most cases occur in individuals who live or travel in an area with high rates of malarial transmission. Transmission also depends on climatic conditions that may affect the number and survival of mosquitoes, such as rainfall patterns, temperature and humidity.

In many places, transmission is seasonal, with the peak during and just after the rainy season. Malaria is not spread from person to person like a cold or the flu, and it cannot be sexually transmitted. You cannot get malaria from casual contact with malaria-infected people, such as sitting next to someone who has malaria.

In rare cases, malaria can also be spread from person to person through blood transfusion, sharing injecting equipment and from mother to foetus.

According to WHO, children under five years of age are one of the most vulnerable groups affected by malaria. There were an estimated 584,000 malaria deaths around the world in 2013, of which approximately 78 percent were children under five years of age.

Malaria and HIV/AIDS
Malaria and HIV co-infection causes more than two million deaths each year, according to WHO. HIV-infected adults are at increased risk of complicated and severe malaria and death. Interactions between the two infections can have serious consequences, particularly for pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about your malaria risk.

Malaria and Pregnancy
Malaria in pregnant women can be more severe than in non-pregnant women and has substantial risks for the pregnant woman, her foetus and the newborn child. Malaria in pregnancy is associated with anaemia, an increased risk of severe malaria, and it may lead to spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, prematurity and low birth weight. If you suspect you may have malaria and are pregnant, see a doctor immediately. If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor about your risk of malaria. 

Signs and symptoms of malaria
Following a bite from an infected mosquito, symptoms usually appear between seven days or more (usually 10-15 days). Occasionally symptoms develop weeks or months later and may include:
- Fever/chills
- Body aches
- Headache
- Nausea/vomiting
- Sweating

Remember: Malaria can very rapidly become a severe and life-threatening disease. If you are experiencing symptoms, see your doctor without delay. 

Malaria diagnosis and treatment

If your doctor suspects you may have malaria, a drop of your blood will be examined under a microscope for the presence of malaria parasites.

If it comes back positive for malaria, medication will be required. Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria reduces disease, prevents deaths and contributes to reducing malaria transmission.

Your doctor will decide on the best treatment for you based on the severity of symptoms, the species of parasite identified, age, if you are pregnant and where the person was infected. It is important to take the full course of medication as advised by your doctor to clear the parasites from your body.

How can I reduce my risk of getting malaria?
You and your family can reduce your chances of getting malaria by taking all of these important measures:
- Taking antimalarial medication to prevent becoming ill (talk to your doctor about whether this is right for you);
- Know your risk and when to seek medical attention;
- Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn;
- Make sure windows and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened, use insecticide-treated bed nets;
- Cover up with loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing (long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and enclosed shoes); and
- Use a good quality mosquito repellent whenever possible (including indoors). As mosquitoes can bite through material, cover your clothes with repellent also.

Tip: Repellents are not recommended for use on children under three months. Use of physical barriers such as netting of prams, cots and play areas are preferred. Talk to your doctor. 

For more information, please contact

Thursday, March 31, 2016

How to recover from Multidrug-Resistant TB

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) is TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs. The reasons why multidrug resistance continues to emerge and spread are mismanagement of TB treatment (not completing the full course of treatment, or being prescribed the wrong treatment or dose or wrong length of time for taking the drugs, or not seeing a doctor at the end of treatment to ensure the TB bacteria has been eliminated) and person-to-person transmission especially in crowded settings such as prisons and hospitals. In some countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat MDR-TB. Treatment options are limited and expensive, recommended medicines are not always available, and patients experience many adverse effects from the drugs. In some cases, more severe drug resistance can develop. Extensively drug-resistant TB, XDR-TB, is a form of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that responds to even fewer available medicines, including the most effective second-line anti-TB drugs. According to World Health Organization XDR-TB has been reported in 105 countries worldwide. Regular check-ups are important to ensure you are on the right track with your TB treatment. For more information:

Get tested. Get treated. See your Local Urban Health Clinic.

TB and HIV –
From World Health Organisation: TB is the most common presenting illness among people living with HIV, including among those taking antiretroviral treatment and it is a leading cause of HIV-related death. People living with HIV are from 26-31 times more likely to develop TB than persons without HIV. ​TB and HIV infection can work together to make you very sick. Talk to your doctor about testing.

TB and Pregnancy –
From the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): While dealing with a TB diagnosis in pregnancy is not easy, there is a greater risk to the pregnant woman and her baby if TB disease is not treated. Pregnant women who are diagnosed with TB should start treatment as soon as TB is detected. Babies born to women with untreated TB disease may have lower birth weight than those babies born to women without TB. Rarely, a baby may be born with TB. Although the TB drugs used in treatment cross the placenta, these drugs do not appear to have harmful effects on the baby. If you are pregnant and suspect you may have TB talk to your doctor.

What Are the Symptoms of TB?
People who have latent TB infection do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. Those who have active TB may experience:
– Fatigue, weakness
– Unexplained weight loss
– Have a cough for 3 weeks or longer (sometimes with blood or sputum)
– Chest pain
– Fever
– Night sweats

Remember: If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms it is important to see your doctor at your local urban health clinic for a TB test.

Get tested. Get treated. See your Local Urban Health Clinic.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Allegation of corruption and mismanagement at Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority

Allegation of corruption and mismanagement at Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority
We have had allegations of corruption and mis management leveled at the management and Board of WHPHA so I am using this Forum to present our position. I am also asking the administrators of this Forum to let this remain because I posted a response to a comment of similiar made by some one called TKiap yesterday and it was removed.
The facts about the sit-in protest and petition to the Minister for Health by the Mt Hagen Branch of the National Doctors’ Association
The Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) Board acknowledges and welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Health, Hon. Michael Malabag that a review will be conducted into the allegations of sub-standard clinical standards and services at Mt Hagen Hospital.
The Board and Management of the WHPHA wish to inform the public they have nothing to hide and will co-operate with the Review Team when it arrives in Mt Hagen to conduct its investigation. The Board believes in transparency and is of the view the public has the right to know about the circumstances that led to the sit-in protest by the doctors, nurses and other staff and the subsequent presentation of the petition to the Minister for Health.
The following is an account of what has transpired:
The National Doctors’ Association (NDA) Mt Hagen Branch led a sit-in protest by its members, nurses, community health workers and allied health workers commencing on the afternoon of Tuesday, 1st March 2016. Initially the sit in was stated to be in response to what certain local members of the NDA claimed was corruption at Board and Management level within the WHPHA, which we deny.
The NDA had previously sent a delegation to Mt Hagen to make its own enquiries into the allegations that had been raised and to talk to the Management of WHPHA. Whilst this process was taking place, the WHPHA advertised the position of Director Curative Health Services in the two national daily newspapers starting on Monday, 29 February 2016. This was part of the WHPHA's normal administrative process.
The position was advertised because the three year contract for the incumbent is set to expire on 22 March 2016. The Board and Management of the WHPHA advertised the position so as to allow sufficient time for the interview and selection process to be completed and an appointment to be made so that the services provided through this vital position could continue without disruption. The incumbent has been informed prior to the position being advertised and is free to apply to be re-appointed and the selection process will be based on merit.
The Mt Hagen branch of the NDA seized on the advertisement of the position of Director Curative Health Services as a major issue and wrote a letter to the CEO of the WHPHA, Dr. James Kintwa on 29 February 2016 demanding the withdrawal of the advertisement within 24 hours or its members would stage a four-day sit-in protest starting at 1pm on Tuesday, 1 March 2016. The letter further stated that if the advertisement was not withdrawn there would be "severe repercussions" and the NDA members would walk off their jobs commencing Monday, 7 March 2016.
The Mt Hagen NDA branch alleged that the advertisement of this position was wrong because of its timing (in the climate of allegations of corruption against the Board and Management), and was also contrary to the General Orders governing the renewal of such contracts.
This represented a fundamental shift from the NDA's original complaints relating to allegations of corruption and mismanagement which we totally deny. Dr Kintwa replied to the NDA by letter dated 1 March 2016, confirming the WHPHA would not withdraw the advertisement for the position as it was a normal administrative process to advertise a contract position when the term of the contract neared expiration.
Dr. Kintwa has also informed the protesting staff there is nothing illegal about the process of advertisement. Dr Kintwa has made it clear that the incumbent has been informed about the process that is taking place and that he has been advised that he is at liberty to re-apply for the position. The advertisement of the position will close on 28 March 2016.
Allegations of corruption and mismanagement
The allegations that have been widely circulated as to alleged mismanagement and corrupt practices within the WHPHA are rejected by the Board and Management as being entirely baseless and without merit.
The WHPHA Management and Board have nothing to hide and give their full support and co-operation to the investigation announced by the Minister. However, the focus must always be on the provision of health services to the public and the Board and Management of the WHPHA calls on the NDA to discontinue the protests while the investigation is conducted and concentrate on providing health services to the public.
At the same time, the Board and Management reserves their rights in relation to the scandalous and outrageous statements that have been made which call into question the integrity of the WHPHA. The Board and Management of the WHPHA are currently taking legal advice as to these matters.
Focus on Services for the people
The WHPHA Board wants to inform the people of Western Highlands and the Highlands Region that the WHPHA will continue to do what it can to improve health services at Mt Hagen Hospital and the various rural facilities.
The Board and Management are working tirelessly to improve facilities including the construction of District Hospitals, Health Centres and other health facilities. The WHPHA has the support of the WHP Governor, local Members of Parliament and donor partners including the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Asia Development Bank.
The WHPHA had established a Call Centre (free call 1542) in partnership with DFAT through which the public can seek health related advice and can also report unsatisfactory services.
The Board and Management of the WHPHA will cooperate fully with the Minister’s investigation and are looking forward to working with the investigation team.

David Guinn CSM OBE OAM
Chairman – Board of Governance
Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority