How to help the inspiring Sister Tarcisia
SIR – No one could fail to be moved and inspired by Sister Tarcisia Hunhoff’s work to provide sorely needed healthcare in Papua New Guinea (Leading article, February 10).
Papua New Guinea ranks second in the Western Pacific Region for estimated tuberculosis prevalence, incidence and mortality, while its TB burden has not improved since the early 1990s. Still more shocking, however, is the fact that in the 47 years that Sister Tarcisia has been working in Papua New Guinea, no new drugs to tackle TB have been developed.
The lack of research into and development of new treatments highlights a serious market failure. Consequently, during the last 50 years drug-resistant forms of TB have emerged, and as TB is the only drug- resistant infection to be spread through the air, the disease forms a particular threat to the health of every person on our planet. There is an urgent need for new ways of bringing new treatments to market at an affordable price for national public health services, including in poor countries.
Clearly all over the world Catholics are responding to the call to tend to the sick with great devotion (faith-based organisations play a critical role in Papua New Guinea’s health system, delivering more than half of all services). I believe that we Catholics in the Western world have a crucial part to play in caring for the sick by using our voices to create the political will to unlock the development of new drugs to combat TB. Let’s ask our government to ensure the development of a safe, short and successful treatment course for TB that will help put an end to this deadly epidemic.
Sister Gillian Price FC
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