By BENNY SANDEKA
Tuberculosis has been a major killer in Papua New Guinea over the years together with malaria prior to the advent of HIV/AIDS.
While both malaria and tuberculosis still contribute significantly to the country's mortality rates to date, their importance on the health and development agenda has faded into oblivion as the country's major health priority is on HIV/AIDS.
But slowly, this silent killer is getting back on the country's health and development agenda with the realisation that "HIV is not killing people but TB and Malaria does."
"We cannot fight against HIV without addressing TB. HIV does not kill. TB does and we must improve our collaboration between TB and HIV," said Clement Totavun of JT International, a medical advisory group in PNG.
"Fifty percent of AIDS mortalities are directly from tuberculosis. People don't die from HIV. When people are treated with TB, they can live long lives with their HIV status," Mr Totavun reiterated.
The paradigm shift back to this old time killer disease comes amid discontent within and outside the National Aids Council Secretariat, the body tasked to manage and coordinate efforts towards addressing HIV/AIDS in PNG that the secretariat is not longer functioning.
Chairman of the National Aids Council Secretariat, Sir Peter Barter has expressed concern that funds earmarked for this cause in the past have been squandered.
But the worrying trend in administering tuberculosis drugs is that patients are not faithful in taking their drugs. This is making the tuberculosis disease becoming more resistant to treatment and can become fatal.