16 Sep 2008

WHO official says dengue in Pacific has become a pandemic

3:46 pm on 16 September 2008

The World Health Organisation is calling for more funds to fight dengue fever, arguing it has reached pandemic proportions in the Pacific.

Thousands of people in the region are infected by dengue, which is carried by mosquitoes and can be fatal if left untreated.

Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, and many other nations are currently experiencing dengue outbreaks.

The WHO's Pacific representative, Dr Kevin Palmer, says the region needs to adopt a multi-sector approach to fight the disease.

"There's more than 1600 [people], and those are the reported cases. So if you multiply that number by five, you get 5- to 6000 people. This certainly has a major impact on the workforce, on the health system. Dengue is really the pandemic disease of the Pacific and we need to do something about it, invest the similar kind of money that was put into bird flu and put that back into dengue."

Dr Kevin Palmer says the WHO is developing a regional plan to fight the virus.