A national campaign to reduce tuberculosis levels in Kiribati has been launched with a massive public awareness programme.
TB Controller, Ken Reeue, says the awareness programme will be followed by more practical and constructive measures, including treatment, in an effort to curb the increasing number of TB cases in Kiribati.
Dr Reeue says Kiribati topped the list in the region with 176 cases recorded last year.
According to Kiribati Ministry of Health statistics, in 2008 there were 125 confirmed TB cases on South Tarawa, the capital, and 51 cases on remote outer islands.
The highest number of cases are found in the densely populated urban areas like Betio, Bairiki and Bikenibeu villages on South Tarawa.
Dr Reeue says the TB public awareness programme will be similar to HIV outreach programmes the Ministry of Health has run in the past.
Earlier this month, the Secretariat for the Pacific Community or SPC in Noumea issued a warning about high TB levels in the region.
The SPC says the Micronesia sub-region, including Kiribati, has the highest TB rate, averaging 140 cases per 100,000 population.
The Melanesia sub-region has 37 cases per 100,000 population and Polynesia 19 cases per 100,000 population.