Training participants (Doctors, nurses and public health officers) from provinces

Healthcare workers from six provinces participated in a clinical capacity training to address viral Hepatitis B, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Sexual Transmitted Infection (STIs) and Monkeypox.

This training provides better understanding of reporting channels for Nationally Notifiable Diseases (NNDs) and sensitization of local partners and stakeholders.

The prevalence of Hepatitis B in Vanuatu is estimated to be 12.8% (33,289 people). In 2020, Vanuatu had an estimated mortality rate of 13.7/100,000 population or about 40 deaths per year and ranks first in the Pacific. This training comes at a good time with Tenofovir, an antiviral treatment for viral hepatitis, recently being added to the Vanuatu national essential drug list.

The HIV cases in Vanuatu is estimated to be low, but further testing is needed. Vanuatu reported its first HIV positive case in 2002, followed by the second case in 2003, and the first recorded death in 2006. To date, there are a total of eight (8) cases currently on treatment. All cases are compliant with treatment and are well monitored.

There has been one reported case in a pregnant woman and currently on treatment, and her baby subsequently tested negative for HIV. There has also been one case of TB/HIV coinfection and this case patient was cured for TB and continues to be compliant with treatment.

STIs are estimated to be high in Vanuatu. Data from second generation surveillance of antenatal women, STI clinic clients and youth in 2008 found high rates of chlamydia (25%) and early syphilis infection (5%) in antenatal women. Rates of gonorrhoea were high in youth (21%) and STI clinic clients (20%) as testing rates estimate is still low.

For Monkeypox, no cases were identified in Vanuatu; however, the spread of cases globally highlights the risk of importation within the country.

Globally, more than 1 million people are newly infected with STIs each day, and 4.5 million with HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, each year. Prior to 2022, monkeypox outbreaks have been reported from 12 countries with occasional exported cases reported from other countries. In 2022 there have been cases identified in non-endemic countries, presenting a new challenge to the global public health community.

The training will build capacity of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, public health officials) to better address the risks to individuals and communities associated with HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis and monkeypox.

The Ministry of Health acknowledged technical and financial support from the World Health Organization and Australian Government towards this training.