TUBERCULOSIS (TB) is an infectious disease that is still a major threat to Fiji's population.
This was revealed in the Ministry of Health's Fiji Journal of Public Health report which was published and released this year.
Ministry of Health project officer for TB Asenaca Mataika in the report said the most recent data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Report 2011 showed that Fiji had an incidence rate of 27 people out of 100,000 and a prevalence rate of 40 people out of 100,000 in population.
"In 2010, there were approximately 191 active TB cases and in 2011, about 213 cases recorded by the national program," Ms Mataika said. She said out of the 213 cases that were recorded last year, 24 per cent were recorded in the Central and Eastern divisions, 41 in the Western Division and 17 per cent in the Northern Division. "The populations most commonly affected by TB are those with low socio-economic status, poor housing, and unhealthy lifestyles, mainly in semi-urban and densely populated areas," Ms Mataika said.
She said TB mostly affected the productive age group between 15 and 55 who were exposed to various social and environmental determinants.
"Males represents a higher number of TB cases than females. An estimated 7 to 11 per cent of total TB cases are represented by children under the age of 15 years," Ms Mataika said.
Furthermore, she said the treatment success rate (TSR) of new smear positive TB cases in 2010 were at a low 67 per cent.
"Out of the 33 per cent that were not successfully treated, six per cent had died, 24 per cent had defaulted and three per cent were transferred out with their outcomes not recorded," Ms Mataika said.
Therefore, she said any person with symptoms or signs suggestive of TB should be investigated for tuberculosis.
However, she said other co-morbid condition such as TB-HIV and TB-Diabetes Mellitus were challenges that the National TB Programme needed to address to fully control TB in Fiji.
She said people living with HIV infection who were also infected with TB were at a great risk of developing active TB.
She added any TB suspect could be referred to 3 DOTS centres in Tamavua, Lautoka and Labasa Hospitals.