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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (March 21, 2000 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---French Polynesia's mobile telephone network, which until now only covered the main island of Tahiti, has reached remote Rangiroa Island (Tuamotu archipelago, east of Papeete), RFO-radio reported.

"Many company representatives from Tahiti come to work or just stay in our hotels. So I think for them, it's a good thing. They can get in touch with their company in Tahiti any time now. But it's still quite expensive. So for those who don't really need it, they can give it a miss," Rangiroa Mayor Teina Maraeura said.

Next on the mobile installation plan in French Polynesia (known here as the "Vini" network) are the Austral islands (south) and the Marquesas (northeast).

The opening of the new network coincides with the 16th conference of French Polynesian mayors, held in Rangiroa this week.

Mayors from throughout the French territory are focusing on "The Sea," covering marine-related issues, such as pearl farming, sea safety and maritime zones management.



PAPEETE, French Polynesia (March 21, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---World Health Organization (WHO) Pacific representative Dr. Kazuyo Ichimori was in French Polynesia late last week to follow up on the Pacific campaign to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (PACELF), the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reported.

Under its Pacific program to eliminate the vector-born disease, WHO and the Pacific Community (SPC) now aim at reaching their target within the next 10 years, the paper said.

During a presentation at the private Malardé Institute, Dr. Ichimori explained the decision to aim for elimination of filariasis in the Pacific was made at a meeting in Brisbane (Australia) during June 1999.

"This is the first attempt to eliminate a vector-born disease in such a big region", she said, stressing the need to coordinate efforts among Pacific Island countries and territories.

The campaign is to be implemented in two phases: from 2000 to 2005, the implementation of what is referred to as a "biotherapy," involving albendazole (ALB) - diéthylcarbamazine (DEC), will be made to affected populations in the Pacific, and from 2006 to 2010, a gradual declaration of eradication of the disease, country by country, will be announced if no case is detected for at least three consecutive years.

Dr. Ichimori also asked French Polynesian authorities to allow the Malardé Institute to become a "collaborating center" under the OMS/SPC project, because it has an immunology laboratory.

Under the same project, "monitoring sites" are to be identified in French Polynesia, including Maupiti, Marquesas, and Raiatea islands.

In French Polynesia, statistics show that until 1949, filariasis (which is caused by a parasite) affected from 30% to 50% of the population.

Some cases included evolutions into the spectacular "elephantiasis" syndrome (up to 10% of the population).

Treatment of the disease through the establishment of a dedicated center of medical studies began in 1949 and from 32%, the rate of affected individuals dropped to 7% in 1955. It further fell to 1.5% (1983).

The PACELF program is based in Suva, Fiji islands, at the National Centre for Scientific Services on Virology and Vector Borne Diseases.

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