Collective Effort Required To Eliminate Tuberculosis In Pacific Islands

Health ministries need communities and the media to achieve their goal

By Shayal Devi

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 23, 2016) – The elimination of tuberculosis (TB) can only be achieved through collaboration between health ministries, communities and the media.

Speaking at the TB control meeting for the Pacific Islands in Nadi yesterday, World Health Organization (WHO) co-ordinator for the Stop TB and Leprosy Elimination Unit, Dr Nobuyuki Nishikiori said the health sector could not achieve the goal of eliminating TB alone.

"Communities and media need to be attentive because societal attention can help the response to TB," he said.

"WHO in collaboration with technical partners have been organising this type of TB control meeting, inviting all the Pacific island countries and it has been organised every two years," he said.

"The significance of this year's meeting is that in 2014, member states of WHO endorsed an End TB Strategy, which is a new global strategy and last year, the regional committee of WHO also endorsed a regional framework associated with this End TB Strategy so this meeting in 2016 is the first for the new era in its control."

Dr Nishikiori said the new era signalled the renewal of the commitment of worldwide agencies to fight against TB.

"This is the first meeting to discuss how we can implement this End TB Strategy in the Pacific Island countries."

The strategy, which was endorsed at the 68th World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for a 90 per cent reduction in TB related deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in TB incidence by 2030 relative to 2015 levels.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary Philip Davies said TB rated among Pacific Island countries (PICs) ranged from very high to low burden incidences.

"Today, we also face the challenge of having to deal with drug resistant forms of TB (MDR-TB and XDR-TB), TB and diabetes, TB and HIV," he said.

"These add further pressure on health expenditure.

"Similarly, addressing these threats calls for strong leadership and investments into newer technology and innovative processes with proven outcome in improving case detection and bring about better cure rates."

Participants from 20 countries in the region are attending the three-day workshop.

Fiji Times Online.
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