Key Points:

Samoan women rank second highest in Pacific rates of Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

A recent study of six Pacific Island countries released by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community indicated 26.9 per cent of Samoan women in the study, tested positive for Chlamydia.

Samoa ranked highest in Chlamydia prevalence in pregnant women under the age of 25.

According to Public Health Physician, Communicable Disease Control Dr. Siniva Sinclair, the prevelance of Chlamydia amongst Samoan women is a "big problem."

"Because women newly infected with chlamydia tend not to have symptoms, chlamydia often goes undetected and untreated," she said.

Med Terms describe Chlamydia as a type of bacteria one species which causes an infection very similar to gonorrhea in the way that it is spread, the symptoms it produces, and the long-term consequences.

Chlamydia is found in the cervix and urethra and can also live in the throat or rectum.

It is highly destructive to the fallopian tubes, as a consequence, it causes infertility and tubal pregnancies (pregnancies that implant ectopically in the tubes, a potential disaster).

The disease can progress in a stealthy way to wreck extensive destruction of the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility.

Chlamydia is associated with an increased incidence of premature births.

Women with a history of chlamydia have an increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix.

An infant of a mother infected with Chlamydia can acquire the disease during his or her passage through the birth canal, leading the baby to have eye disease or pneumonia.

Currently there are no facilities available locally to test Chlamydia.

"There is a great need for proper testing in Samoa," Dr. Sinclair said.

The Public Health Clinic at Tupua Tamasese Meaole II Hospital does provide testing for other STIs however do not cater locally for Chlamydia, HIV, Hepatitis B and syphilis.

Dr. Siniva says the Clinic provides treatment to men and women displaying symptoms of Chlamydia with a one off dose of azithromycil.

"Because of the process we have of consultation, examination and check up we are able to provide syndromic treatment to those that visit the clinic," she said.

Standard treatment is free from the clinic and Dr. Siniva says proper advice and guidance is also provided to those who visit.

"The treatment we provide covers common bacterial infections," she said.

The consultation process only detects those displaying obvious symptoms of Chlamydia however those with 'silent' symptoms cannot be helped.

Proper testing facilities according to Dr. Siniva can save women from the advanced stages of Chlamydia.

The Public Health Clinic is open from 10-1pm from Mondays to Thursdays.

- NEWSLINE