PACIFIC GOVERNMENTS MUST COMMIT TO FIGHTING TB

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World Health Organisation says effort is ‘critical’

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 27, 2009) – Regional governments, including Fiji, must invest in tuberculosis control methods to ensure that less people die from it, says World Health Organisation regional adviser Dr Pieter Van Maaren.

He said all the countries in the Pacific, except Pitcairn Island, reported TB cases.

Dr Van Maaren said: "Government commitment is very critical."

He said strong State commitment to effectively implement those interventions would help reduce the burden of TB, TB to HIV and multi drug resistance TB. "Now is the time for countries in the Pacific to scale up effective interventions against the problems of the TB-HIV co-infection and MDR-TB."

He said Government resources were needed for Stop TB programs to be effective. He said Government- funded laboratories and drugs were needed for the prevention of TB.

Dr Van Maaren said it was important to be involved even though it would take years for any countries to realise the full potential of TB control methods.

Dr Van Maaren was part of the WHO organised Stop TB two-day meeting that began in Nadi on Monday. He said the meeting was to discuss the progress in TB control programs.

"We are here to identify issues and constraints as well as come up with a plan to control TB in the region," he said.

DTB and HIV/AIDS program managers are meeting in Nadi to discuss the implementation of action plans to address TB-HIV and MDR-TB in the Pacific region.

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