Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce to review the 2009 H1N1 experience
ImageThe 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) pandemic showed how important it is for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to have preparedness and response plans in place along with resources to implement them.

A three-day meeting of the Pacific Avian and Pandemic Influenza Taskforce (PAPITaF) just started today (Tuesday 25 May 2010) in Nadi, Fiji Islands, to examine the region’s responses to H1N1 and identify how pandemic preparedness and response plans can be improved.

Almost all PICTs were affected by the H1N1 pandemic influenza last year. Only Niue, Tokelau and Pitcairn Islands had no cases recorded. 

‘Fortunately the disease was moderate in severity,’ says Mrs Jennie Fischer, coordinator of the Pacific Regional Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Project (PRIPPP) at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). ‘Its impact in the region was mitigated by the plans that PICTs have been preparing in recent years with support from PRIPPP and other partners, but the pandemic also revealed some weak points.’  


Pacific meeting identifies key actions to improve TB control
ImagePolitical will, sustained commitment from governments and continued international funding remain essential for the control of tuberculosis (TB) in the Pacific Islands region, a major regional meeting on the disease has concluded.

The fifth Pacific Stop TB meeting in Nadi, Fiji on 4–7 May, organized by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), reviewed progress in controlling and managing the disease.

Although the region is on track to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving the prevalence of TB by 2015, the emergence of drug-resistant strains and concentrations of the disease in some areas makes it a continuing threat and a high priority for countries and areas. In addition, multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) threatens to reverse the gains in TB control in several countries.

French Pacific territories workshop

ImageThemes discussed : tuberculosis, dengue fever, influenza, leptospirosis and rheumatic fever

A workshop for the French Pacific Territories organized by SPC’s Public Health Division was held in collaboration with the InVS (French Health Surveillance Agency) and WHO at SPC Headquarters in Noumea from 22 to 25 February. It brought together health professionals from the three French Pacific territories.

The purpose of the workshop was to allow the three French territories to discuss common issues and plan the responses and solutions that could be applied to each one, share their experiences and, in this way, enhance the public health work carried out by each territory.

SPC provides water tests to PNG to help fight cholera outbreak

ImageOn Friday 08 January 2010, the Port Moresby office of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) provided 2220 water quality testing tablets and related supplies to Mr Enoch Posanai, Executive Manager of Public Health at the Papua New Guinea (PNG) National Department of Health, to help fight the cholera outbreak. 

These supplies will enable the National Department of Health to carry out more than 1700 water chlorination level tests and 500 water pH tests.

Contaminated water and food are the main routes of transmission of cholera, which continues to spread in PNG. National response teams have been doing water quality testing in the outbreak zones of the affected provinces since the outbreak started last year. These tests have assisted with the overall control efforts so far.


Malaria reduced

ImageMalaria in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu has been dramatically reduced through an effective control strategy, a major regional meeting in Tonga has heard.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) public health director Bill Parr told the 39th meeting of the Committee of the Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) of SPC in Nuku’alofa this week there were 50,000 fewer cases of Malaria in the Solomon Islands in 2008 compared with 2003.

He said an effective prevention and control strategy comprising of long lasting insecticide treated bednet distribution, focal point indoor residual spraying, early diagnosis and treatment and active case detection has had dramatic impact on the annual incidence rate of malaria in both the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The annual incidence rate (which is a measure of number of confirmed cases of malaria per 1,000 population) has been reduced from 198 /1,000 to 84/1,000 in the Solomon Islands over the five year period ending December 2008, while in Vanuatu it has decreased from 74/1,000 to 14 / 1,000 in the same period.

WHO and SPC donate personal protective equipment and Tamiflu to Fiji Ministry of Health

ImageThe World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) are supporting Fiji's response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic, with financial help from Australia and New Zealand. 

During the past two weeks, WHO donated 157,000 capsules of Tamiflu to Fiji. Approximately 10,000 additional capsules have also been sent to Fiji by SPC. Pandemic H1N1 influenza is a mild illness in most persons; therefore WHO recommends giving Tamiflu only to patients with risk factors for severe influenza. These supplies provide Fiji with enough antiviral medication to treat approximately 2% of the population.


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