Duba – Papua New Guinea

When Duba, a five-year-old boy, was admitted to the hospital, his parents and doctors had little hope that he would survive. He was extremely frail and had an enlarged spleen. Duba’s mother recollected, “He didn’t even look human.”

Duba had no history of TB and neither did any of his familial contacts. Like most children, Duba was unable to cough up sputum, but was clinically diagnosed with TB based on his symptoms and admitted to the TB ward of the hospital.

Just prior to Duba’s admission to the TB ward, a new program began to scale up TB services in Western Province. The new program focused on the diagnosis and treatment of MDR-TB patients like Duba and piloted a new, rapid diagnostic tool, GeneXpert, which can detect resistance to the first-line drug rifampicin in just 90 minutes, a process that previously had taken more than two months. The program also benefits from a specialized TB ward staffed with eight highly qualified TB doctors and health workers and four outreach staff.

Duba’s doctors noticed that he was unresponsive to first-line drugs, diagnosed him with MDR-TB, and initiated second-line treatment. Duba quickly began to put on weight and showed signs of improvement. He was discharged from the hospital and continued treatment under the care of his mother.

Duba’s mother has been instrumental in her son’s treatment. She offers support and makes sure that Duba takes his medications twice a day. Duba and his mother still report to the hospital every day so Duba can receive his injections and TB medications. Duba has now completed seven months of treatment and no longer receives the painful injections. He continues to take his oral medications and will do so until he is cured.

Story Collected by: Western Provincial TB Program, Papua New Guinea; Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Papua New Guinea; Health and HIV Implementation Services Provider (HHISP), Papua New Guinea; World Vision, Papua New Guinea