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Tuberculosis diagnosis

New technology is helping ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG) make major improvements in the diagnosis of tuberculosis among our workforce, with two state-of-the-art GeneXpert® diagnostic machines.

With a 40 percent increase in tuberculosis cases reported across PNG over the last decade, the two machines were installed at the LNG Plant and the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant permanent health clinics to help control the spread of the disease among our workforce.

The GeneXpert machine works by analysing sputum samples taken from patients for tuberculosis bacilli, as well as genetic markers that may indicate any resistance to tuberculosis treatment.

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by bacterial infection of the lungs and has the potential to spread to other organs. It is transmitted through the air typically by coughing and sneezing.

Using the machine, initial test results can now be obtained within 24 hours with 98 percent accuracy, compared to the previous month-long waiting time for results using current methods available in PNG.

The technology brings early intervention in tuberculosis cases, reducing the risk of people becoming newly infected with the illness. It also enables higher quality treatment and care for those confirmed with tuberculosis.

Timeliness of results is critical to getting the right treatment and care for the patients, with nearly one quarter of PNG’s 16,000 tuberculosis cases each year estimated to be fatal.

Under the testing process, workers diagnosed with tuberculosis undergo a further series of testing while being isolated and masked to prevent further contamination of others.

After treatment, the patient may be eligible to return to work and remain on treatment if they are no longer infectious to others.