Our approach to tuberculosis

We’re using localised treatment facilities and education to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea.

The tuberculosis epidemic in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest prevalence rates of tuberculosis (TB) in the world – second in the Western Pacific region – with 30,000 new cases reported every year.

TB is caused by airborne bacteria affecting the lungs. It’s one of the oldest known diseases in the world and is also preventable and curable.

The symptoms include coughing – sometimes with blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. This disease thrives in overcrowded areas and is one of Papua New Guinea’s leading causes of death.

We are working alongside the Papua New Guinean government and donors to eradicate the country’s TB epidemic. Funded by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), our programs are reducing the number of TB cases in Papua New Guinea. 

Preventing the spread of TB in Papua New Guinea

Tackling tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest tuberculosis prevalence rates in the world. World Vision is working in hotspots like Port Moresby and Daru, partnering with the Papua New Guinea Health Department, the Global Fund and the Australian Government. We're supporting new treatment initiatives, raising awareness about the disease and helping people with tuberculosis access the diagnosis, treatment and support they need closer to home.
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Papua New Guinea's TB problem



die every year



of patients don't complete their treatment



of sufferers are children


The spread of tuberculosis 

TB requires lengthy and complicated medical care. In order to be treated effectively, patients must be administered with the correct dosage of medication, at the right time, and for the correct duration. For many, this can mean taking unpleasant medicine every day for at least six months.

As 87 percent of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas where there are limited health facilities, many patients have to travel considerable distances for treatment.

Coupled with the country’s rugged landscape, the isolation experienced by most rural communities and the transient nature of the population, it can be difficult for patients to complete treatment. Many stop taking their medication once they start to feel better, but this means that the disease is not fully cured. This can result in drug resistance and consequently, new strains of TB emerge – which are more difficult to treat.

In addition, many Papua New Guineans believe TB is caused by sorcery. This means that people do not always seek medical attention when they become sick, instead turning to long-held traditional remedies and ancestral belief systems such as witchcraft. Historically there is a connection between epidemics of illness and the increase of sorcery and witchcraft accusations – which can result in violence against suspects. 

Fighting TB with DOTS 

Through The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, we’re using Directly Observed Treatment, Short-courses (DOTS) to respond to TB in Port Moresby and across the country.

DOTS is the World Health Organization-approved approach to treating TB, bringing the necessary medical facilities and education to communities where it’s needed most.

Rather than relying on patients to travel long distances to receive appropriate care, health professionals come to their communities instead, where they administer treatment and educate the public about TB at Basic Management Units. One busy unit, the Six Mile Clinic in Port Moresby, is equipped with a laboratory and trained technicians, enabling faster diagnosis and more timely treatment for sufferers.

This approach greatly increases the likelihood of patients completing their treatment, while also lowering the number of sufferers who develop a drug-resistant form of TB.

In a more holistic sense, we are also partnering with the Australian Government as well as the Papua New Guinean National TB Program to strengthen the local healthcare system. As part of this, we’re promoting improvements in medicine, technology, education and policy – all critical in the fight against TB.

World Vision Regional TB Coordinator Valda oversees programming across the southern region of Papua New Guinea.

 Stop TB in Daru 

In Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, which is just 150 kilometres off the coast of mainland Queensland, there are many people living in poverty and isolation from health services. Crowded living conditions and poor sanitation worsen the spread of illness and as a result, TB poses a major threat to these isolated communities.

As a solution, World Vision is implementing the Stop TB Project in the region’s capital of Daru. Funded by the Australian Government, this project is easing pressure on the local healthcare system and drastically improving treatment completion rates.

World Vision operates five Daru Accelerated Response to Tuberculosis (DART) sites across the island every day. Here, Treatment Supporters administer DOTS and at midday each day, patients receive a fresh, healthy meal. This provides them with the necessary nutrition their bodies need to deal with such strong antibiotics, while also encouraging their attendance.

“The rule is if you don’t get your medicine you will not be getting the lunch,” says Sonia, Stop TB National Project Manager. “Because they want to get lunch, then more and more patients came every day.”

Trained Treatment Supporters also monitor the attendance of each of their patients, visiting them at home if they miss a dose, or can’t make it to the DART site. Beyond this, these dedicated team members offer important moral support and guidance to their patients.

Daisy, a Head Treatment Supporter, believes this part of her job is vital to her patients’ recovery. “They talk to us, they sit with us and we talk to them. We make them to laugh,” she says. “Staying close to the patients … that’s how you will give tender care to the patient.”

Top: Stop TB volunteer Daisy preparing to make a house call. Middle: Stop TB National Program Manager Sonia at a DART site. Bottom: Patient Jonathan attends a DART site with his family.

Our progress



enrolled in DOTS



daily attendance at DART sites



treatment success rate across all forms of TB


A holistic response to tuberculosis

 Through our relationships with the Papua New Guinean government and the Australian government, our efforts are taking control of TB in Papua New Guinea. By bringing necessary treatment to the people who need it, we’re curing TB sufferers and improving the quality of life for thousands of people every year.

“I can live a normal life again, as I used to,” says Kyrol, a patient with drug-resistant TB. “The team here was doing a lot of work around the clock every year. They’ve all put together some expertise, time, sacrifice and commitment, just to save lives.”

“TB is airborne, you don’t go out and look for it,” says Valda, World Vision Regional TB Coordinator. “Not to get TB is not to breathe. So, in order for us to stop TB we need to be looking out for these patients, diagnosing them, treating them and encouraging them to complete their treatment and curing them.”

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