Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM Celebrates World TB Day

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): March 24, 2009 - World TB Day is observed each year on March 24 to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Worldwide, TB remains one of the leading causes of death from infectious disease. An estimated 2 billion persons are infected with M. tuberculosis according to the Center of Disease Control. World TB Day provides an opportunity for TB programs, nongovernmental organizations, and other partners to describe problems and solutions related to the TB pandemic and to support worldwide TB control efforts. The U.S. theme for this year's observance is Partnerships for TB Elimination and the Federated States of Micronesia has decided on adopting the same theme for their celebration of World TB Day in 2009.

According to Dr. Mayleen Jack Ekiek, the FSM TB Program Coordinator from the Department of Health and Social Affairs, all four FSM States are celebrating World TB Day today. In Chuuk, there is a workshop for a women's group that will train participants to go out and do a campaign awareness to eliminate TB in Chuuk. Kosrae State is having a speech contest in the schools on the topic of TB knowledge and will award school supplies as prizes for the best speeches. Yap and Pohnpei are both doing community outreach programs targeting communities who are most at risk for TB.

Dr. Ekiek said that compared to last year at this time, "FSM has come a long way in its efforts to eliminate TB." She referred especially to Chuuk State's completion of a new isolation ward at the state hospital with up to 20 beds and the hiring and training of 9 DOT (directly observe therapy) workers to go out and visually observe patients taking their medicines. Worldwide recommendations point out that DOT workers are necessary to eliminate TB. Chuuk State also has provided funding for second-line drugs to help tackle the multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains of TB that have been identified in Chuuk. With these new drugs, they are able to better treat their MDR-TB patients.

Dr. Ekiek said that she hopes the response from Chuuk State can serve as a learning process for the other states, especially on the importance of the creation of an isolation ward specific to TB patients in the local hospitals. FSM is able to address TB elimination with funding sources from the WHO and the CDC, and hopes to continue the progress towards eliminating TB in FSM.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356