Vanuatu continues emphasis on TB prevention during Covid-19 pandemic

Tuberculosis (TB) in Vanuatu remains a Public Health problem as it continues to affect the lives of people.

Reports from the Department of Public Health show that new cases are reported each year and is a medium burden TB country in the Pacific context.

On World TB Day commemorated in 24 March, the ministry raised awareness and emphasized the importance of not forgetting Tuberculosis during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the ministry, the pandemic has had an impact on TB as per the reported cases.

The number of TB cases reported in 2020 and 2021 has dropped compared to 2017 to 2019.

This may be due to Provincial Health officers’ commitment to Covid-19 response throughout Vanuatu.

Mortality rate shows that 7.5 per 100,000 population in 2018 have been affected and most of the deaths occurring is due to existing underlying conditions and patient delay to access TB health services.

The Ministry of Health has been proactive in responding to reduce and eliminate TB cases in communities by implementing these activities;

  • Contact Tracing for Tuberculosis
  • Plans on working with TB champions identified in communities to help observe treatment in the community
  • TB is now included in the Essential Services Plan for the Ministry of Health
  • Ensure Pharmaceutical supplies are in stock
  • Diagnostic Tools (Gene Xpert and Microscopes) delivered to
  • Provinces to ensure testing are done on a timely and effective
  • manner at provincial level  
  • Plan Established for Hospital/Medical for TB care and
  • management if there is coinfection of TB and COVID-19
  • Both TB and Covid-19 affect the lungs.

However, TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) while Covid-19 is caused by a virus (SARS-CoV-2).

Tuberculosis is already everywhere, Covid-19 is new.

Both these diseases have similar symptoms as coughing, high fever and difficulty breathing and are both airborne.

However, TB is preventable and is a treatable disease.