World Bank announces new support to counter alarming growth of TB infections
WASHINGTON D.C., May 31, 2017 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a credit of US$15 million (PGK48 million) to support on-going efforts in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to combat the country’s growing tuberculosis epidemic.
The Emergency Tuberculosis Project will bolster early detection programs already underway, strengthen the treatment of patients suffering from drug resistant tuberculosis, and shore up the capacity of health-care agencies to identify potential cases in key hotspots and deliver effective treatment, in order to improve case management for both medical staff and patients.
“The Government of PNG recognizes the seriousness of the TB situation in the country, and we have been working with development partners to plan a scaled-up response,” said Michael Malabag, PNG Minister for Health. "This World Bank project will be crucial for our efforts to combat this epidemic, utilizing a coordinated approach to help control the spread of TB.”
Reporting an estimated 31,000 new cases of tuberculosis each year – resulting in more than 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization – PNG’s health-care system has struggled to cope with the epidemic. Drug-resistant TB is a particular concern for PNG and the region, with hotspots including the National Capital District (including Port Moresby), Gulf Province and Western Province.
“TB is a silent killer, hitting the poorest Papua New Guineans the hardest,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Papua New Guinea. “By boosting early detection programs, this project will save lives and provide much-needed support to health workers across PNG who are fighting this epidemic every day.”
“Infectious diseases such as TB often hit the poorest communities the hardest, resulting in families spending much of their incomes on health care,” added Xiaohui Hou, World Bank Senior Health Economist. “Too many lives have already been lost to TB in PNG, and this investment is important to the efforts of the government and development partners in jointly addressing a crisis in our region.”
The Australian Government will match the World Bank’s investment with a grant of US$15 million (PGK48 million) to support the fight against TB in PNG.
The World Bank Group has significantly scaled up its work in PNG in recent years and is committed to continuing this support for the long term. The Emergency Tuberculosis Project will directly contribute to the PNG Government’s anti-TB efforts, as articulated in the PNG National TB Strategic Plan (2015-2020), and further support the World Bank’s key priorities in PNG, as outlined in the Country Partnership Framework (2013-18).