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    Friday, October 19, 2018-3:59:08P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Number of TB cases on Saipan decreasing

SAIPAN has improved in terms of combating tuberculosis cases, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Medical Officer for the Pacific Region Dr. Richard Brostrom.

In  the 1990s, he said, there were about 180 tuberculosis cases per year involving contract workers.

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Conference participants included representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Southeast National Tuberculosis Center, the World Health Organization, the Australian Respiratory Council and U.S. Pacific island health agencies.
Dr. Richard Brostrom talks about tuberculosis cases in the Pacific.  Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

He said the partnership among private clinicians, businesses and  public health agencies helped reduce the number of TB cases which now total 30 to 40 a year.

“TB requires that private practitioners, the hospital, clinics and public health programs work closely together. That has been a great success here on Saipan, a model for the rest of the Pacific in community-government partnership to tackle a difficult problem,” Brostrom added.

He was the TB physician for the CNMI from 2002 to 2010. At CDC, he oversees and assesses medical care for TB patients across the Pacific Region where, he said, there are 500 to 600 cases per year.

Brostrom was one of the presenters at the three-day Pacific Islands Tuberculosis Controllers Association or PITCA conference  held last week at the  Fiesta Resort & Spa.

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.-Public Health Medical Director Dr. Phuong Luu said the number of tuberculosis cases on Saipan is 17 times higher than that in the U.S. mainland and nine times higher than in Honolulu. “We are on a par with Guam,  but we are much better in terms of controlling the disease  compared to the other Pacific islands.”

She said “we [still] have a lot of work to do to educate people.”

Luu noted that this is the first time the CNMI has hosted a PITCA conference. “We discussed, through data, how well are we doing in terms of detection and control of tuberculosis.”

The conference participants, Luu said, are experts. “We have people from CDC while the Southeast National Tuberculosis Center is represented by its director, Michael Lauzardo.”

There were also presentations from the Rutgers Global Tuberculosis Institute in New Jersey represented by Lee Riechman; the World Health Organization; and the Australian Respiratory Council.

Brostrom said TB “remains the number one infectious disease killer in the world, so to have island neighbors that have a very high TB rate is not good for the region. That is why we have to come together every year to share our best practices and try to help each other improve TB care.”