Thursday, December 06, 2012
Australia pledges A$20 million for TB in Western province
By Liam Fox,
Australia's Foreign Minister has announced an extra AUD$20 million to tackle tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea's remote Western Province.
Bob Carr pledged the extra funding at the opening of the annual Australia-PNG ministerial forum, in Port Moresby.
He says Australia wants to cure 85 percent of TB cases in Western Province and the money will be used to expand local health services and train staff.
It is in addition to $11 million dollars that is being used to upgrade TB facilities at the hospital on Daru Island.
Western province is only a short boat ride from the outer islands of the Torres Strait in far north Queensland.
It has the worst health indicators in PNG and a growing number of cases of drug-resistance.
Senator Carr has already announced Australia would contribute millions of dollars towards the PNG government's plan to provide free education and plans for 1,400 nursing and midwifery scholarships.
The Australian Greens Party says the package is a sweetener in return for the PNG Government reopening a detention centre on Manus Island, where Australia's sending asylum seekers for processing.
But the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the spending is justified.
"We've made it clear that we want our presence on Manus Island to be of benefit, which is an area doing it tough, and is in need of assistance. A part of Papua New Guinea, which is an imminently justifiable target for Australia's aid assistance," said Mr Bowen.