Find Health and Medical expertise in Tuvalu

Legislation in Tuvalu prevents the operation of private medical practices and pharmacies, so all facilities available on the islands are public. The country’s only hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, is located in Funafuti and is capable of providing basic primary health care, and dental and pharmaceutical services. There are also eight medical centres, located on the outer islands, which are staffed by nurses. Serious cases are sent to Fiji or New Zealand under a medical referral scheme, the Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme. For diagnosis of some diseases, specimens need to be sent to laboratories overseas.

Tuvalu’s main pharmacy is located in the Princess Margaret Hospital, and is responsible for the procurement of drugs and reproductive health commodities from suppliers. The Department of Pharmacy, which is a branch of the Ministry of Health, is responsible for organising training for nurses working in Tuvalu’s medical centres to ensure that they are proficient in the ordering and management of medicines and drugs. There are no licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers in Tuvalu. The National Drug and Therapeutic Committee, part of the Ministry of Health, functions as a regulation authority for pharmaceuticals.

The Tuvalu Medical Treatment Scheme ensures that people who have conditions beyond the scope of Tuvalu’s health services are treated in Fiji or New Zealand.

Tuvalu began to reform its health care system in 2008 with the development of a new health master plan to guide the work of the Ministry of Health for the next decade. The Strategic Health Plan 2009–19 aims at ensuring the highest attainable standard of health for all people of Tuvalu by ensuring legislative and budgetary support for efficient and effective health services; providing high-quality and cost-effective management of health services; improving the quality and cost effectiveness of curative medical services; and focusing on primary health care. The plan also emphasises the improvement of services for mother and child health in the areas of immunisation, childhood illness, nutrition, breastfeeding and reproductive health. Reducing TB is another aim.

Communicable and non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for an estimated 74% of all mortality in Tuvalu in 2008. The most prevalent NCDs in Tuvalu are cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for 38% of total deaths across all age groups in 2008. Cancer, non-communicable variants of respiratory diseases and diabetes contributed 10%, 6% and 5% to total mortality, respectively (2008). Communicable diseases along with maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions in Tuvalu accounted for an estimated 21% of all mortality in 2008. A government paper on HIV/AIDS reported that in 2010 there were 10 people living with HIV in Tuvalu. Tuvalu is a non-endemic country for malaria. The estimated incidence of tuberculosis (TB) decreased by more than half overall in the period 1990–2013. Estimated mortality (when mortality data excludes cases comorbid with HIV) from the disease has dropped slightly overall in the period 2007–13, although there was great fluctuation over this time.

In 2013 government expenditure on health was 19.7% of GDP. In the most recent survey, conducted between 1997 and 2010, there were 109 doctors, and 582 nurses and midwives per 100,000 people. Additionally, in the period 2007–12, 98% of births were attended by qualified health staff and in 2013, 96% of one-year-olds were immunised with one dose of measles. In 2014, 98% of people were using an improved drinking water source and 83% had access to adequate sanitation facilities. The most recent survey, conducted in the period 2000–12, reports that Tuvalu has 18 pharmaceutical personnel per 100,000 people.

Tuvalu is not a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the covenant that commits signees to the ensuring ‘the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’.

Health and Medical organisations in Tuvalu
Ministry of Health