Women are central to the battle on NCDs, conference hears

The central role of women in the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific was reaffirmed at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at SPC headquarters in Noumea.

ImageUnited Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reproductive health adviser Dr Wame Baravilala, back row second from right, at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Noumea (SPC Photograph, 18 August 2010). 

SPC Healthy Lifestyle section head Dr Viliami Puloka told the conference on August 18 that NCDs in the Pacific were of a tsunami magnitude.

‘But unlike tsunamis, NCDs are sticking around,’ he said.

Breaking the silence controlling STIs in the Pacific

ImageWednesday 25 August, Noumea, SPC – For all the beauty and extraordinary richness of the Pacific, the region also holds some sad records.  Recent surveys on HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) in the region show that on average, one in four sexually active young people in the Pacific have an STI, with a chlamydia prevalence in youth of up to 40% – among the highest rates in the world*.

In response to these disturbing findings, the Pacific Regional STI Working Group was established to review the situation and provide evidence-based recommendations to countries to help reduce the prevalence of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. The Working Group comprises technical specialists from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine (OSSHHM).

Inform'ACTION 32 is out!

ImageTitle: Moving towards standardised syndromic surveillance

Contributions include articles on a recrudescence of leptospirosis in French Polynesia in early 2010, results of an assessment of NS1 antigen detection tests during DEN-4 epidemic in French Polynesia, Pandemic H1N1 2009 in Niue (Open borders with no cases), the laboratory-based influenza surveillance project (achievements and opportunities), moving ahead with influenza surveillance in Pacific Island countries and territories, susceptibility to anti-TB drugs of M. tuberculosis strains isolated in Kiribati 2008–2009, a framework to address multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Pacific Island countries and territories, a standardised syndromic and event-based surveillance system for the Pacific Islands, the 16th Meeting of the PPHSN Coordinating Body and a French Pacific Territories Workshop. 

Access all the articles on line.

Framework to address multidrug-resistant TB in the Pacific Island countries and territories

ImageThe emergence of resistance to anti-tuberculosis (TB) drugs, particularly of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), has become a major public health problem worldwide and an obstacle to effective global TB control. Although available data indicate an overall low level of drug resistance in the southern Pacific, alarmingly high levels in some Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), especially the Micronesian, have been observed.

In response, a working group of experts from the technical agencies (WHO, CDC and SPC) and from the network of Pacific TB reference Laboratories was established to develop a framework to address MDR-TB in the Pacific.

Results focus for Pacific-wide meeting on NCDs

ImagePacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) now have initial funding and resources to make a difference on the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) affecting the region. How they are progressing will come under close scrutiny at a major regional conference in Fiji this week (from 21 to 23 June).

NCD staff from 22 countries will gather at the Tanoa Hotel in Nadi to review progress on efforts to reduce the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and related risk factors of obesity, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol use.

NCDs are the leading cause of premature death in the region, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that they account for 75 per cent of deaths. Australia and New Zealand have contributed AUD 26 million to a programme of prevention and remedial activities within countries. The programme is managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and WHO.

Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce to review the 2009 H1N1 experience
ImageThe 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic showed how important it is for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to have preparedness and response plans in place along with resources to implement them.

A three-day meeting of the Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce (PAPITaF) just started today (Tuesday 25 May 2010) in Nadi, Fiji Islands, to examine the region’s responses to H1N1 and identify how pandemic preparedness and response plans can be improved.

Almost all PICTs were affected by the H1N1 pandemic influenza last year. Only Niue, Tokelau and Pitcairn Islands had no cases recorded. 

‘Fortunately the disease was moderate in severity,’ says Mrs Jennie Fischer, coordinator of the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPPP) at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). ‘Its impact in the region was mitigated by the plans that PICTs have been preparing in recent years with support from PRIPPP and other partners, but the pandemic also revealed some weak points.’  


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