Pacific Infectious Diseases

Diagnosis and management of infectious diseases is dependent on highly skilled staff. This highlights the need for onsite expertise and organisational commitment to the education of local health care workers.

Infectious diseases result in significant individual suffering, causing preventable excess mortality and have detrimental effects on a country’s economy. The burden of Infectious Disease in the Pacific is overwhelming, affecting people of all ages in the community and in hospitals.  There are high incidence rate of tuberculosis, malaria, yaws, HIV, viral hepatitis and other sexually-transmitted infections. Antimicrobial resistance has added further to the burden with multidrug resistant TB, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Gram negatives (e.g. E. coli, Klebsiella) causing life-threatening infection.

Despite this, infectious diseases are readily treatable through early diagnosis, appropriate management, preventable medicine and good hygiene practices. Improved practices result in better patient outcomes, reduced morbidity and mortality, whilst saving money. Small investment in infectious diseases now will lessen future financial burden for Pacific islands and external donors.

Controlling and mitigating infectious diseases in the Pacific is particularly challenging due to lack of resources and geographical isolation.  The Pacific Islands have some of the lowest reported GDPs in the world. As a result, many Pacific island nations do not have the necessary resources or expertise to diagnose, manage and treat the large burden of infections. It is therefore imperative that they utilise their scarce precious resources optimally. Additionally, the Pacific Islands are collectively a large number of small islands groups with relatively small populations separated by vast distances. This geographical and social isolation results in many challenges including supply of basic medical equipment, training and upskilling of staff.