October 25, 2012

Health authorities concerned by spread of TB in Fiji

Posted 18 October 2012, 9:22 AEST

Although much of Pacific is winning the fight against tuberculosis, Fiji is struggling.

The World Health Organisation's Global Tuberculosis Report says since efforts were stepped up 17 years ago, 20 million lives have been saved worldwide.

But the body says there is a real risk of losing momentum in the battle to keep TB under control.

Dr Mario Raviglione, from Stop TB, told Pacific Beat the situation in Fiji is a concern and that instability in a country can often determine health outcomes.

"We can speculate about other factors that could be important such as the fact that many of these islands are developing and developing fast and that means sometimes more diabetes and when you have more diabetes, you have an increased risk of tuberculosis," he said.

The WHO report also says while the incidence of TB has gone up in Fiji, treatment rates have decreased.

"More cases are developing in the societies and the communities but the system is incapable in a way of treating the patient properly so you start seeing a decrease in the cure rate," said Dr Raviglione.

He says competence, commitment and money is needed to help stop the spread of the TB in the Pacific and across the world.

"TB needs investment like with any control of a particular disease that is out of control in particular parts of the world," he said.

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