4 Dec 2009

Marshalls backs emergency measures to fight drug resistant tuberculosis

7:36 am on 4 December 2009

The Marshall Islands Government and health authorities are implementing emergency measures to tackle new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

The Cabinet this week authorized one point nine million US dollars in emergency funding to beef up the Ministry of Health's TB prevention program.

It also approved regulations banning known TB sufferers from travelling outside of the Marshalls Islands unless they have authorization from the Director of Public Health.

Although only six cases of the multi drug resistant TB have been confirmed to date, it presents the Marshalls with more than domestic health implications, since islanders enjoy visa-free travel to the United States.

Majuro Hospital Administrator Dr. Marie Lanwi-Paul says the Ministry is taking urgent measures to step-up screening for and treatment in the two urban centres of Majuro and Ebeye, as well as the remote outer islands.

While drug-susceptible TB can be cured within six months, the multi drug resistant variation requires up to two years of drug therapy.