5 Feb 2010

TB challenge gets a parliamentary focus in the Marshall Islands

5:01 pm on 5 February 2010

The threat of drug resistant tuberculosis in the Marshall Islands has prompted Parliament's health committee to consider a law ammendment to allow public health officials to order the quarantine of patients.

The recommendation was made during a public hearing on Thursday, considering legislation to increase the authority of health officials to detain people who are a threat to public health and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

During the meeting, Public Health Director Dr Kennar Briand said in other countries, people who pose a public health risk can be detained in jail, and asked why not take the next step if a person refuses treatment.

Government officials have also expressed their frustration with the current law that requires them to go to court to quarantine patients with communicable diseases who will not follow treatment prescribed.

The Marshall Islands has the highest TB rate in Pacific islands affiliated with the United States at more than 190 per 100,000 population.