BANABANS living on Rabi Island in the North have some of the highest tuberculosis rates in the world.
Tamavua Hospital TB consultant Dr William Kaitani said in contrast to the small island population, the number of TB patients was high.
The Health Ministry embarked on a TB control program and awareness last year after recognising the infectious lung disease was endemic on the island.
"Of course the need for awareness is paramount," Dr Kaitani said. "We screened the population and found many were TB germ carriers.
Extended family structure, houses close to each other and the sociable nature of the islanders aided the disease's spread .
Dr Kaitani said a study showed 25 per cent of the population were TB carriers and had the germ mycobacterium tuberculosis.
There are 15 TB cases admitted at Tamavua Hospital, four of whom were from the island.
"We are always having a patient from Rabi," Dr Kaitani said.