Making a New Plan in Kiribati – Lala Gittoes

Monday, November 10th, 2014


In October I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent the Foundation at a National Leprosy Review Meeting in Kiribati.  This was jointly organised by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.

Kiribati is one of only three nations in the Pacific who have not yet managed to eliminate leprosy as a public health risk (fewer than 1 case per 10,000 of population).  In fact, so far this year 100 new cases of leprosy have been diagnosed, making the leprosy burden of Kiribati ten times greater than it should be.

As many as six people may sleep in this tiny shelter.

As many as six people may sleep in this tiny shelter.

Poor housing and desperate overcrowding provide the ideal situation for leprosy to spread – and once a person infected, it can take as much as 10 years before any clinical signs of leprosy are seen enabling a diagnosis to be made and treatment begun.

The new plan of attack for leprosy in Kiribati requires regular visiting of all contacts of newly diagnosed patients – for many years – to ensure that if they develop leprosy, they can be treated promptly and therefore greatly reduce the risk of infecting other members of the family or community in which they live. 

The Pacific Leprosy Foundation is committed to help with this work through the provision of training for health workers, transport for leprosy team members, visits by our leprosy consultant and help with management and planning to ensure that the vision of a leprosy-free Kiribati can be achieved as soon as possible.

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