A Cairns doctor says the Australian Government's efforts to combat tuberculosis (TB) in Papua New Guinea will not work unless something is done to address "atrocious" living conditions.
Dr Stephen Vincent recently visited PNG with Queensland's chief health officer, who yesterday said locally-based treatment programs funded by AusAID were showing signs of success.
Dr Vincent says while he agrees with the policy in principle, it will be a wasted effort unless TB hotspots receive basic infrastructure like sewerage and running water.
"The conditions are atrocious - there's no sewerage, there's no running water, there's no electricity," he said.
"This is a breeding ground for TB and other communicable diseases such as typhoid, cholera, malaria, dengue.
"If you have an extensive TB program there's no way you're going to get on top of the problem if the basics are not met.
"They call TB the slow epidemic, so when you look at data over a period of 18 months the data's too small.
"Worldwide it's been shown that if the housing quality doesn't improve then the TB situation never improves, despite all good intentions with programs and doctors etc."