WITH half the population of young people in the Pacific region having chlamydia and 25 per cent of pregnant women reported to have sexually transmitted infections (STI), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has launched a guideline for health workers in the battle against STIs.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau participated in the launch of the Comprehensive Sexually Transmitted Infections Management Guidelines held in Nadi on Tuesday.
The guidelines allow health care providers to provide on-the-spot analysis, reducing waiting time for costly laboratory results by equipping them with information and skills in syndromic diagnosis and treatment.
Syndromic diagnosis is based on symptoms which could be undertaken during a patient's first clinic visit and later supported by lab tests where available.
According to the SPC, the guidelines were a result of training and consultation with Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) and should provide a significant weapon in the battle against STIs in the region. "The guidelines support health care providers, ensuring they manage STI cases in the best possible way," said Dr Sophaganine Ty Ali, the SPC's STI and counselling adviser.
HIV and STI section head at SPC, Dr Dennie Iniakwala, said the issue needed to be addressed on a wider scale rather than from a purely health perspective.
"We must look at the epidemic from a community-wide perspective, which includes education and advocacy for safe sexual practices.
"A purely clinical response is ineffective," he said.