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SPC supports national efforts to eliminate TB in the Pacific
Monday, 25 March 2013
TB nurse in Kiribati testing a patient for diabetes on a home visit

World TB day – 24 March 2013

The theme for this year’s World TB Day – Stop TB in my lifetime – challenges us to strengthen our efforts.

‘There have been numerous achievements in tuberculosis (TB) management in the region in the past decade, and countries and partners should be proud of these. However, challenges remain, and we must keep the momentum going if we are ever to move towards elimination,’ said Ms Kerri Viney, Acting TB Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

 

Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) are now picking up and successfully treating more cases of TB than in previous years. According to WHO estimates, there were 16,534 new cases of TB in the Pacific in 2011.

 

‘At the national level, however, the situation is mixed. In some countries the number of TB cases has increased significantly in recent years, and in others it is decreasing,’ added Ms Viney.

 

‘SPC assists PICTs in their efforts towards the elimination of tuberculosis in the region, in collaboration with regional partners and donors. We do this by making sure that there are sufficient resources for effective TB management, providing technical assistance when needed, and supporting research efforts to better manage and reduce the burden of TB.’

 

For example, SPC assisted the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services to develop a three-year project to improve TB diagnosis and treatment and provide much needed infrastructure for the national TB programme.

 

‘In Kiribati, TB is currently running at very high levels of more than 300 cases per 100,000 people, but we are seeing a gradual reduction in the rate and we hope that we will bring it to a manageable level by the end of this project,’ said Dr Takeieta Kienene, Kiribati National TB Programme Senior Advisor.

 

In 2012, SPC worked hard to strengthen operational research capacity, which includes collaboration with other health programmes.

 

‘People with TB also suffer from other diseases, especially diabetes, and in the region we are trying to raise awareness about the association between the two diseases, so that patient care is improved,’ said Ms Viney.

 

A number of research activities looking at how TB and diabetes can be better managed are currently under way in Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.

 

All these projects and activities are carried out in close collaboration with national governments, WHO, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

 

Photo caption: TB nurse in Kiribati testing a patient for diabetes on a home visit

 

For more information, please contact contact Kerri Viney, Acting TB Adviser at SPC Public Health Division (Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  – Tel.: (687) 26 20 00) or Christelle Lepers, Surveillance Information and Communication Officer (Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  – Tel.: (687) 26 01 81).

 

 

Background information

 

World TB Day commemorates the day when, in 1882, Dr Robert Koch announced to the scientific community that he had found the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

 

Characteristic symptoms of TB are persistent cough of more than three weeks duration, cough with expectoration of sputum, fever, weight loss or loss of appetite.

 

The disease is fully curable if the treatment is taken on a regular and continuous basis for adequate duration.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 May 2013 )