Current health issues and progress in Kiribati

Kiribati is currently working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To achieve the targets for the reduction of child mortality, which form MDG 4, Kiribati should reduce under-five deaths per 1,000 live births to 29, and increase measles immunisation to 100 per cent by 2015. In 2012 under-five mortality stood at 60 deaths per 1,000 live births, and measles immunisation was at 91 per cent. Kiribati is making consistent progress towards the goal for under-five mortality, though the rate of decline must be increased if the target is to be met by 2015. While the level of measles immunisation has not yet reached 100 per cent, it is not far off this target. The country had no recorded cases of measles in 2010.

The global MDG 5 target for maternal health is to reduce the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. In the period 2006-10 Kiribati had a reported maternal mortality ratio of 56 deaths per 100,000 live births. Part of the goal also stipulates that 100 per cent of births must be attended by a skilled health professional. In the period 2007-12 this figure stood at 80 per cent, and so is yet to be achieved.

MDG 6 aims for a reduction in the prevalence of HIV, malaria and other diseases. There is not enough information from international agencies to confirm the country’s progress on this goal with regard to HIV. Since 1990 tuberculosis (TB) has shown an overall increase in estimated incidence, while estimated mortality (when mortality data excludes cases co-morbid with HIV) has significantly decreased. There is insufficient information available to estimate Kiribati’s progress in MDG 6.

The Kiribati Health Strategic Plan 2012-15 outlines six strategic objectives: increasing access to and use of comprehensive family planning services, particularly for vulnerable populations; improving maternal, newborn and child health; preventing the introduction and spread of communicable diseases through strengthening existing programmes of control and ensuring readiness for any future outbreaks; strengthening initiatives to combat NCD risk factors and reduce morbidity, disability and mortality from NCDs;Ā strengthening the health system and addressing gaps in service delivery; and improving access to appropriate services for victims of gender-based violence and youths. The issues of child and maternal health are integrated in a single objective so as to integrate them, reflecting a key result area of the Kiribati Child Survival Strategy 2008-12. Gender-based violence and the needs of young people are priority issues for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with strategies relating to both reflected in the Kiribati development Plan.