29 Jul 2010

Surge in Marshall Islands leprosy cases sparks call for training

2:31 pm on 29 July 2010

A surge in leprosy cases in the Marshall Islands has sparked a call for more training of outer island medical staff in the detection and monitoring of the disease.

The Ministry of Health has announced the discovery of 33 new cases on three islands in a report on the year's health activities to the United States government.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says health officials running leprosy prevention programmes want the remote islands' health workers to take responsibility for dealing with the disease.

"More than 20 years ago the Ministry of Health totally reversed its focus at that time on hospital care and really increased the funding for preventive health care and over the years this focus has slipped to the point where now a very small amount of funding relative to the 20 million dollars a year that goes into health is actually going into prevention."

Our correspondent in Marshall Islands, Giff Johnson.