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Monday, September 12, 2011

Dying on Australia's doorstep

This article is worth every second of your reading time. It outlines what countries like Papua New Guinea is in need of and what they are going through to get some form of medical treatment where else some of us are taking things for granted.

Tuberculosis is a growing problem and sometimes it gets blindsided and in return more trouble looms to get it treated. Medical treatment is for all, regardless of colour, height or nationality. Article via The Age, excerpt :

" IN A row boat at low tide, the distance between one of the best health systems in the world and one of the worst can can be easily travelled in less than 15 minutes. So it is not surprising that over the past decade some 200 people sick with tuberculosis have been bundled into boats by their families and ferried across this frontier, the narrow band of water separating Papua New Guinea (a nation ranked 137 out of 162 in the UN World Development Index) and islands that are outlying territories of Australia (ranked No. 2).

After being examined at the islands' TB clinics, about one-quarter of the sick have been found to be infected with multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), a dreaded modern manifestation of a disease that still ranks among humanity's greatest killers.

From the Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Boigu, the sickest are then flown to hospitals in Cairns, Queensland, where access to powerful second-line drugs and intensive treatments mean the difference between life and death, or life and profound disability.

This fragile lifeline between PNG and ''the Other Side''- to borrow the PNG vernacular for the land beyond the invisible border - is no answer to the health crisis that extends across the impoverished South Fly region, or the disease emergencies, such as cholera, tuberculosis and malaria, that fester within the settlements crowding the muddy shores of the provincial capital on Daru Island.

As a health strategy, fleeing to Australia is not equitable - it's grossly inadequate, and it's random. But for all that it is - or was - something for those with the wherewithal or inclination to make the journey.

In theory, it has also only been an avenue open to those people from the cluster of border communities allowed free movement under the Torres Strait Treaty. But such protocols have not always been observed by doctors and nurses in the Australian clinics."

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