ACTION partners in Australia recently helped to secure funding for TB clinics in the Torres Strait, which serves patients from both Australia and the country’s nearest neighbor, Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The Torres Strait is a body of water that separates the Australian continent from the Island Nation of PNG. Being only a short boat ride away in a little open dinghy, it is easier, faster and far cheaper for some PNG nationals to access health services on the Australian side of the Strait than to travel overland to PNG clinics which are lacking available services to treat the disease.
Despite this need, the Australian Government announced in 2011 plans to close clinics on the islands of Saibai and Boigu, where patients from PNG seek treatment. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of ACTION’s partner, RESULTS Australia, the government recently announced it will provide AU$ 200,000 for the clinics to continue providing services for PNG Nationals with TB.
In addition to this, the Australian Government announced an additional AU$8 million project to help boost TB facilities in the Western Province of PNG, including the capital Daru and along PNG coastal villages. This funding will support health authorities in Western Province to improve treatment for TB patients and transition out of dependency on Australian run facilities.
Australia’s commitment to improve TB facilities and services in PNG is a victory for public health in the region. ACTION Partners in Australia will continue to hold the Government to account to keep the clinics on Boigu and Saibai Islands operational until the PNG government demonstrates it is capable of addressing the country’s TB crisis.
Photo credit: Pierre Virot