Original Research

TB or not TB? That is the question regarding TB treatment in a remote provincial hospital in Solomon Islands


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Peter Jones1
MB BS, PhD, FRACP, DCH, GAICD, Professor of Paediatrics *

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Amelia Denniss2
BMedStudies, MD

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Deloshan Subhaharan3
BMedStud, MD

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Brigid Doolan4
BMedStud, MD

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Tanvi Karnik5
BMedStud, MD

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James Fink6
BSc, MB BS, MPH, FRACP, FACP, Associate Professor

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Grace Rara7
MB BS, Resident Doctor


1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

6 Queensland Health, Queensland, Australia

7 Kirakira Hospital, Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, Makira-Ulawa Province, Solomon Islands

ACCEPTED: 25 February 2019

Professor Peter Jones: Tuberculosis treatment in a remote provincial hospital in Solomon Islands

early abstract:

Background: Tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant public health challenge in Solomon Islands. Limited healthcare resources, geography, and socio-cultural beliefs, coupled with lack of laboratory diagnostic tools, leads to diagnostic and treatment outcome uncertainty.

Methods: Kirakira Hospital (KKH) is the main provincial hospital of Makira-Ulawa Province in Solomon Islands. A retrospective clinical audit of hospitalised TB patients in KKH over a 2-year period between July 2015to July2017 was conducted. The cost of TB treatment was estimated by calculating the total number of inpatient bed days of treatment.

Results: Data was available for 42 of 78 listed TB patients including 23 Males and 19 Females and 9 children aged less than 16 years. The average age was 35 years (Range 9 months- 74 years). Thirty-five of these received a chest x-ray. All patients had at least one of the following; fever, night sweats, chronic cough and haemoptysis as part of their clinical TB presentation. Thirty-six completed the full 8-week duration of intensive HRZE treatment as in-patients of KKH. The audit shows the treatment of TB consumes 15% of the current health care budget of Makira-Ulawa Province.

Conclusion: TB remains a common clinical diagnosis in KKH. TB consumes 15% of the current healthcare budget of Makira-Ulawa Province. The limited capacity and data about the management of TB in Makira province means that it is not currently possible to measure if there has been any progress towards eradicating TB in Solomon Islands Laboratory investigations for TB available in Makira including sputum analysis and the GeneXpert are required to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and identify multi-drug resistant strains of TB. This needs to be coupled with robust monitoring and data collection of both inpatients and outpatients to ensure the current treatment protocols for TB are being followed in Makira-Ulawa province. These steps are essential if TB is to be eradicated from the provinces of Solomon Islands by 2030.