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Te Marae Ora continues TB monitoring programme

Saturday 1 April 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Health, National


Te Marae Ora continues TB  monitoring programme
Secretary of Health Bob Williams. PHOTO: KATRINA LINTONBON/21012914

When visitors or Cook Islanders present symptoms of tuberculosis (TB), there is a process to follow, says Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health secretary Bob Williams.

Williams was responding to questions raised by Cook Islands News whether plans were in place to monitor tuberculosis (TB) after the health authority in French Polynesia called on its people to be vigilant and test any early symptoms of the bacterial infection usually affecting the lungs.

French Polynesia figures showed they had 56 new cases in 2022 and three dead. More than 80 per cent of cases were found in Tahiti.

Tuberculosis is not common in the Cook Islands and according to TMO, in the past five years the country had recorded only three TB cases.

With Air Rarotonga and Air Tahiti increasing their flights between Tahiti and Rarotonga to three per week from June, Williams says TMO has dedicated staff to monitor TB and manage any case – “it is a continuous programme”.

He said visitors from Tahiti and other destinations are not tested for TB. However expatriate workers moving here have to undergo TB test before entering the country.

“TB is a communicable disease which can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or speaking between an infected person and another person,” Williams said.

“Visitors or locals when presenting symptoms of TB at any health centre, there is a process to respond to it including contact tracing to quickly contain the situation and determine if any public health measures will need to be put in place.”

Williams has advised if anyone is aware they have TB “to be self-compliant with the recommendations of their GP for the safety of the wider community”.

Symptoms include cough, fever and loss of appetite.