Fiji has one of the highest rates of typhoid in the world. An assessment by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Health Organisation in 2006 estimated an annual incidence rate for Fiji's northern division of up to 1,000 cases per 100,000 people per year. There were 408 reported new cases of typhoid fever in Fiji in 2009.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease transmitted through food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people. The symptoms may include a high fever, headache, discomfort, constipation or diarrhoea, and enlarged spleen and liver. Some strains of typhoid can cause gastroenteritis. Frequent flooding, water supply problems and high mobility of people carrying typhoid contribute to its rapid spread.
From December 2011 to February 2012, Australia worked with Fiji's Ministry of Health to contain a large typhoid fever outbreak in Nanoko and surrounding villages in the highlands of Navosa, Western Division. Australia provided $90,000 (F$165,000) to directly address the immediate threat, and for a National Typhoid Campaign for future prevention.
Australia's contribution provided fog and mist machines to decontaminate toilets and destroy fly breeding sites. It provided training for health staff in typhoid treatment, prevention and education. The funding also covered transportation and travel allowances so health staff could visit affected villages to identify new cases and educate people about how to avoid catching typhoid fever. Australia also funded the construction of 60 flush toilets and treated the drinking water supply to reduce the risk of future typhoid outbreaks in the Nanoko area.
Australia's support for typhoid fever control in and around Nanoko will improve the lives of thousands of villagers for many years to come.