Eight Pacific Island countries and territories are joining a programme to screen for and treat the sexually transmitted infection, chlamydia.
Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Tuvalu join a programme recently piloted in the Cook Islands, Nauru and Solomon Islands.
Chlamydia is a common STI in the region, particularly among young people, with up to 20 percent of people aged 15-30 possibly infected.
The STI Advisor for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Dr Anna McNulty, says chlamydia can lead to infertility and infection of babies during delivery, but the disease shows few symptoms.
"The countries are asked to focus testing on the highest risk populations, or the people most likely to have chlamydia or gonorrhea. And from our pilot evaluation, they've been effective in doing that. The programme runs for five years, so it's not just a short-term project which often Pacific Island countries find frustrating if even funding for something is only short term."
Dr Anna McNulty, the STI Advisor for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community