The epidemiology of tuberculosis in the rural Balimo region of Papua New Guinea

Trop Med Int Health. 2018 Sep;23(9):1022-1032. doi: 10.1111/tmi.13118. Epub 2018 Jul 5.


Objective: Papua New Guinea (PNG) has an emerging tuberculosis (TB) epidemic which has become a national public health priority. In Western Province, there are few data about TB outside Daru and the South Fly District. This study describes the epidemiology of TB diagnosed at Balimo District Hospital (BDH) in the Middle Fly District of Western Province, PNG.

Methods: All patients (n = 1614) diagnosed with TB at BDH from April 2013 to February 2017 were recorded. Incidence of reported new cases was calculated for the combined Balimo Urban and Gogodala Rural local level government areas. Analyses investigated patient demographic and clinical information, differences between pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB patients, and predictors of treatment failure.

Results: The average case notification rate (2014-2016) was 727 TB cases per 100 000 people per year. One-quarter of TB cases were in children, and 77.1% of all cases had an extrapulmonary TB diagnosis. There was a 1:1.1 ratio of female to male TB cases. When comparing pulmonary and extrapulmonary TB patients, extrapulmonary TB was more likely in those aged up to 14 years and over 54 years. Extrapulmonary TB was more likely in new patients, and pulmonary TB more likely in previously treated patients. Residence in rural regions was associated with treatment failure.

Conclusion: There is a high burden of TB in the Balimo region, including a very high proportion of extrapulmonary TB. These factors emphasise the importance of BDH as the primary hospital for TB cases in the Balimo region and the Middle Fly District, and the need for resources and staff to manage both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant TB cases.

Keywords: PNG; Papua New Guinea; drug resistance; epidemiology; extrapulmonary tuberculosis; pulmonary tuberculosis; résistance aux médicaments; tuberculose extrapulmonaire; tuberculose pulmonaire; épidémiologie.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papua New Guinea / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult