6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Where we are?

Photo: Patrick Tuimaleali'ifano/UNDP.

Countries of the Pacific are confronted with a complex set of health issues which include HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, malaria and other diseases both communicable and non-communicable, in differing orders of magnitude between individual countries and sub-regions. In Melanesia (excluding Fiji), malaria is one of the most significant common health threats. The growing number of cases of HIV and AIDS in Fiji and Papua New Guinea suggest that sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS also need to be high priorities for these countries.

In Micronesia and Polynesia as well as in Fiji, where there is no malaria, the most serious immediate health issue is the increase in incidence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and some cancers which are the leading causes of death and morbidity in the Pacific. These NCDs are largely due to preventable factors including poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Taken together as Goal 6, HIV and AIDS, malaria, and non-communicable diseases are serious and growing problems. Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea are off-track and eight others are deemed to be slightly off-track. Many PICs are dealing with a double burden of both infectious and non-communicable diseases. These are having a direct impact on the health of individuals across all age groups. They also have a direct impact on economic development through an increased burden on government budgets and national public health systems.

With incomplete and inconsistent data across time and countries, no country can be deemed as fully on-track to achieve the global targets for Goal 6. The most prominent results in Goal 6 are for Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu. Progress is being made in some aspects, notably in the fight against malaria, but in others the health indicators are deteriorating. What is important is that all Pacific Island governments now recognize both the national and individual level threats and risks that are posed by these worsening health indicators, particularly in relation to HIV and AIDS, NCDs and TB.

Source: 2012 MDGs Pacific Regional Tracking Report.

Targets for MDG6
  1. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
    • HIV prevalence among population aged 15-24 years
    • Condom use at last high-risk sex
    • Proportion of population aged 15-24 years with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS
    • Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of non-orphans aged 10-14 years
  2. Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
    • Proportion of population with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs