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Tuberculosis in the Pacific Island Countries

Tuberculosis in the Pacific Island Countries

On a global scale, the burden of TB in the Pacific is relatively small, but in some Pacific Island Countries, for example, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, and Solomon Islands, their individual case notification rates are higher than the average notification rate of 95 per 100000 population in the Western Pacific Region (Global tuberculosis report 2017, WHO). Pacific island countries and areas present specific challenges for TB control in ensuring universal access to quality TB care for all people, especially high-risk and vulnerable populations such as children and elderly people, people in poor communities and remote islands and people with co-morbidities and other risk factors, particularly HIV, diabetes and tobacco use.

66th session of the World Health
Organisation Regional Committee for the
Western Pacific (WHO)

The emergence of Multi-Drug Resistance TB (MDR-TB) and Extensively Drug-Resistant TB (XDR-TB) pose new challenges in these resource-scarce settings with inadequate laboratory support.  An infectious disease associated with poverty and overcrowding, TB can be controlled and cured with proper management of cases and better diagnostics. People with active TB can infect 10 – 15 other people through close contact over the course of one year and without proper treatment, close to 45% of people with TB will die.

In response to the WHA endorsement of the new global strategy, WHO in the Western Pacific Region has translated the strategy into possible actions in the Regional Framework for Action on the implementation of the End TB Strategy in the Western Pacific 2016-2020, which was endorsed by the sixty-sixth regional committee (WPR/RC66.R3). The framework outlines actions by governments and all partners to provide patient-centered care, pursue policies and systems that enable prevention and care, and drive research and innovations needed to end the TB epidemic in line with Sustainable Development Goals.

TB ward in Tungaru Central Hospital in
South Tarawa - POLHN (WHO/Yoshi

It also calls for building strong national systems for prevention and care for TB through whole-governmental and whole-societal approaches.   The healthcare professionals in the Pacific have limited options when it comes to furthering their education or keeping up to par with the change in medical science regarding TB. To assist doctors, nurses and members of other health cadres in advancing their knowledge on TB, the WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support office in Fiji has developed an online TB Essentials Training Course that is available on the Pacific Open Learning Health Network (POLHN). POLHN provides a full range of free online health courses with certificates for healthcare professionals.

This course has been specifically developed to provide knowledge to healthcare professionals on a range of topics from TB Case Detection, Case Management, Infection Control, Contact Tracing and Monitoring & Evaluation of TB Prevention and Care. These topics are divided into six modules, and the beauty of this course is that it is self-paced, hence, allowing the healthcare professionals to complete it at their own pace and earn their online TB training with a certificate. Similar to other online courses, there is a quiz at the end of each module, which students need to complete successfully in order to obtain their certificate of completion.

Upon successful completion, students will be more confident in all aspects of TB care, prevention and treatment, hence, assisting the National TB Programs (NTP) in their respective countries to ultimately achieve the goals of the END TB Strategy.

Fight Infections and Spread the Word With our Infection Control Course for Nurses

Fight Infections and Spread the Word With our Infection Control Course for Nurses

Infections are diseases caused by infectious agents (known collectively as pathogens) such as viruses, bacteria or fungi. Colds and flus are familiar infections that all of you have experienced at some point in your lives. New infections begin when pathogens leave the body of their host (the infected individual in which the pathogens are multiplying) and enter a new one. The more we are exposed to each other, the more likely these infections are transmitted. If you work in a hospital, a care centre or a doctor’s office, it is essential to understand infection control and to apply a preventive approach in your daily tasks to protect your patients and yourself from the risks of contamination.

How Are Infectious Diseases Transmitted?

They are distinguished from other illnesses and disorders because they can be transmitted from someone who is ill to other individuals who then develop the same infections and can thus pass it on. Transmission of pathogens can occur directly between people, or indirectly in the air, water or food, via other animals to humans, or from sources in the environment. As health professionals, you are particularly concerned with two transmission routes for infection: direct and indirect person-to-person transmission. Indeed, you have a greater risk of becoming infected and of infecting others when you are around sick people or in areas susceptible to germs.

Staff nurse of Vunidawa

hospital practices

Direct person-to-person transmission of an infection occurs when the infection can be passed on to the next host via physical contact. Types of direct contact include: Touch, for instance a handshake, pathogens may enter the new host through a cut or be transferred from hand to mouth. Exchange of body fluids, in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) for example, pathogens can be transmitted to the infected individual’s partner during unprotected sex, Mother-to-child transmission happens when pathogens pass from mother to baby in the uterus, during childbirth, or via breastfeeding. Indirect person-to-person transmission does not require physical contact and occurs when the original host spreads pathogens into the air, water, food or via a contaminated object (for example a door handle, light switch), which then infect someone else. Some common types of infections include: Airborne infections, transmitted through the air via attachment to dust or tiny respiratory droplets (when coughing or sneezing) and containing millions of bacteria or viruses that may be inhaled by someone else. These may settle on surfaces contaminating utensils, clothing or food, which are then touched or consumed by someone else. Waterborne infections, transmitted when infected urine and faeces from humans or animals washes into lakes and streams, where the pathogens multiply and reinfect people when they drink or bathe in contaminated water. They are particularly common in parts of the world where large numbers of people don’t have access to clean drinking water or sanitation. Faecal-oral infections, spread when pathogens from solid waste or excrement enter the mouth and multiply in the gut. Transmission occurs when unclean hands, dirty utensils or food contaminated by faeces enters the mouth. Bloodborne infections, spread via shared needles and syringes, for example when used among people who inject drugs. Medical procedures such as blood transfusions can also transmit pathogens; thousands of infections occurred from HIV-contaminated blood before the transmission of HIV was understood.

How Can You Prevent and Fight Infection?

It is essential to adopt proper hand hygiene practices and proper sterilisation techniques to keep environments free of germs, as well as to wear protective clothing after every instance of patient contact as you could pick up an infection that the next patient might acquire. These precautionary actions are instrumental in preventing transmission and fighting health care associated infections (HCAIs). It is even more important as infectious periods do not necessarily coincide with disease signs and symptoms. Indeed, the time period during which infected hosts are able to transmit their infection to another host can start before the appearance of any rashes, spots, or sensations in the body like dizziness or nausea. Various infection transmission risks increase the likelihood that a disease will develop. These risks include poor infrastructure, shortage of equipment, lack of access to clean water and overcrowding. Another important factor involves the insufficient knowledge of health workers who did not undertake adequate infection control training. Infection and prevention control (IPC) protocols have been instrumental in controlling infectious disease and saving lives, and are a shared responsibility of all health professionals. On our online infection control course for nurses and healthcare workers, you will learn to understand and apply infection prevention and control and patient safety principles in health care settings.

Why Is Infection Control Training Important?

Infectious diseases are a significant cause of both death and sickness and can also cause permanent paralysis and disability. They can have devastating economic and social impacts as becoming ill will incur costs directly via healthcare and costs associated with lost wages and productivity at work. As health workers, you have the duty to look after the health and be mindful of sick humans. If you are working in nursing, healthcare or social care, our online infection control course is designed to support you as a professional. Upon completion, you will gain Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points and a recognised certificates.

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POLHN course: infection prevention and control