Tuberculosis (TB) contributes significantly to the burden of infectious diseases among adults in the Western Pacific Region. In some small PICTs, this burden is even heavier than the regional average.
The first Stop TB Meeting in the PITCs was convened in 2000, and endorsed a Pacific Strategic Plan to Stop TB.
The Objective of the Pacific Strategic Plan is to reduce by 50% the prevalence of and mortality due to TB in the PICTs by 2010, compared to the rates in 2000. Its targets are to: introduce the DOTS strategy (Directly Observed Treatment – Short Course) in all PICTs by 2002; to enroll 100% of detected cases under DOTS and to cure 85% of detected cases by 2005.
To achieve these targets, in collaboration of governments of Member States of PICTs, WHO South Pacific is: (1) coordinating development and implementation of National Stop TB Plans to improve their capacity to extend DOTS nationwide and to ensure the continuous supply of high quality anti-TB drugs; (2) coordinating training and advocacy meetings; (3) establishing surveillance of TB, including laboratory based surveillance for multi-drug resistant TB and HIV/TB co-infections, and (4) coordinating work with international agencies and NGOs such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), CDC and other partners, and sharing information on the progress of DOTS implementation and activities.
The WHO leprosy elimination strategy, based on the widespread implementation of Multi Drug Therapy (MDT), has led to an 85% reduction in leprosy prevalence over the last 15 years. The Global Alliance for the Elimination of Leprosy was formed with the aim of eliminating the disease as a public health problem for all countries by 2005.
In the Western Pacific Region, 35 of the 37 countries and areas had eliminated leprosy as a public health problem (i.e. prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population) by the end of 2000. Since 1995, among the 15 South Pacific countries and territories, 4 reported no new leprosy cases, 6 reported below 10 cases and 5 reported a few more than 10 cases. This implies that South Pacific is well advanced with the global elimination target.