Taking the fight against tuberculosis (TB) in the Solomons

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DEAR EDITOR, when speaking at a ceremony in Honiara last week to celebrate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, Dr. Nemia Bainivalu, the Under-Secretary for Health Improvement under the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) talked of having a new, novel diagnostic tool being finalized which would allow for a rapid diagnosis of TB and drug resistance in a few hours

Dr Bainivalu was speaking of the new tool in the context of the MHMS being mindful for the need for research to determine the optimal operational approaches to new technology, strategies and interventions in a national TB Operational Research Plan.

I was interested to learn that Dr Bainivalu mentioned having additional domestic and donor funding and new partners to address TB through the MHMS National Tuberculosis Programme (NTP) and being able to mobilize more community representatives to address TB.

Dr. Bainivalu envisaged that having more funding for the NTP would increase demand for TB services after informing greater numbers of people about the availability of TB services for free over the whole country.

TB is an airborne bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and remains prevalent in the Solomon Islands especially in parts of Malaita Province.

In Malaita the Atoifi Adventist Hospital (AAH has been at the forefront of responding and addressing the TB problem with much support from Australian organizations, including the Australian Respiratory Council.

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In the past, the AAH successfully received a grant from the Australian Respiratory Council to develop local TB services.

Early project work, facilitated by the grant, involved traditional oral story telling providing education and communication about TB.  With modern technology locally made videos in the local languages and Pijin were developed for community based TB education and used widely.

It is very much hoped that the new diagnostic tool outlined by Dr Bainivalu will further aid the advances already made by local health team workers and village elders and Chiefs to stimulate more discussion, understanding and early active case finding and treatment of TB.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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