Political will, sustained commitment from governments and continued international funding remain essential for the control of tuberculosis (TB) in the Pacific Islands region, a major regional meeting on the disease has concluded.
The fifth Pacific Stop TB meeting in Nadi, Fiji on 4–7 May, organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), reviewed progress in controlling and managing the disease.
Although the region is on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of TB by 2015, the emergence of drug-resistant strains and concentrations of the disease in some areas makes it a continuing threat and a high priority for countries and areas. In addition, multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) threatens to reverse the gains in TB control in several countries.
The importance of political will to control TB and the need for a commitment from governments in the Pacific island countries and areas to sustain TB efforts were highlighted in discussions. The meeting also called for sustained and continuous funding to address emerging threats to effective TB control in the region, including MDR-TB and TB-HIV co-infection.
The meeting was attended by 85 representatives from national TB programmes in 19 Pacific island countries and areas and technical experts from the SPC, WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The participants called for the following:
• Sustained support from technical agencies and other partners in the implementation of TB control plans in the Pacific;
• Integration of TB services into general primary health care services;
• Enhanced human resource development and training to maintain a high level of sustainable expertise for TB control;
• A commitment that all TB patients will be treated with high quality TB medicines using approved treatment regimens;
• Strengthening of laboratory services to support TB control, and
• Improved detection of TB in high risk groups.
In the coming months, national TB programme staff, in conjunction with the CDC, the SPC, WHO and other regional partners, will work together to act on the recommendations from the meeting with the objective of further reducing the burden of TB in the region.
For more information please contact:
Dr Janet O’Connor
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Phone: +687 260 116
Dr Daniel Sagebiel
World Health Organization
Phone: +63 2 528 9720/ + 63 928 5071745