A total of 101 Tuberculosis (TB) cases have been recorded in Vanuatu last year, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The Ministry also conveyed that the TB Unit of the Department of Public Health has detected a patient with Rifampicin-Resistant TB (RR-TB) last month in Port Vila who is undertaking treatment. RR-TB has been an area of growing concern to human health worldwide.

People are urged to visit their nearest health facilities if they experience symptoms of TB. Symptoms include coughing up blood, feeling weak or very tired, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, fever, sweating at night and chills.

In a statement to announce the 2023 cases, the MOH explained that treating takes longer than other bacterial infections and is expensive and toxic with multiple drugs. Therefore, compliance to treatment is critical for cure of patents.

A person who has contracted TB in their lungs or throat can spread it through droplets that are in the air, often through coughing, or sneezing.

The ministry explained that the disease can be prevented through various means, such as covering the mouth and nose when sneezing and completing the 6 months of treatment.

For patients to overcome the disease, they need to have health diets and food high in protein and amino acids that help fight off infections. They need to reduce lifestyles that can contribute to weakening the body’s immune system and improve their houses for better ventilation.

Parents must ensure that babies are vaccinated against TB shortly after birth.

In its statement, the MOH assured it is intensifying efforts to combat TB and address the new challenge of multi-drug-resistant TB in Vanuatu.

The ministry said it is collaborating with partners such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Development Program to support its efforts in screening and treating cases of TB and MDR-TB.

Together with the SHEFA Health Office, they will be conducting community screening and will strengthen a rapid response team to promptly address the new cases.

They will also provide refresher training for health workers on the management of TB and reducing stigma and support for patients.

They are encouraging early screening to quickly identify cases and ensure patients receive treatment.

A provincial MDR/TB Task Force will be established to ensure effective implementation of the activities.