19 Mar 2007

Pacific nations strengthen fight against HIV/Aids

5:35 am on 19 March 2007

An attempt to tackle HIV-AIDS on a grassroot level through better cooperation is behind a new organisation that has been launched at a meeting of Health Ministers' in Vanuatu.

Ministers and senior officials from 21 Pacific countries attended the meeting to strengthen the collaborative fight against diseases, including avian influenza and HIV-AIDS.

Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Fiji are now members of the Oceania Society for Sexual Health and HIV Medicine, or OSSHHM.

The interim secretary of the new organisation, Dr Arvin Chaudhary, says it will create a regional standard procedure and help in day-to-day operations.

"This is going to be a body for the doctors. So we will have a standard practice of medicine throughout the Pacific. Now because the procurement of the anti retro viral system is is done through Fiji and then we distribute it to other Pacific Islands. Their guidelines differ from Fiji and once something fails they really do not know to whom to get to. What OSSHHM will provide is a Pacific link for Pacific doctors. So if I get stuck I can call somebody somewhere and say 'hey I am having this problem'."