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  • By Pacific Iland Times News Staff

Health leaders seek universal health care for island communities

Nadi, Fiji – Primary care and access to universal health care must be priorities for improving the health of the region’s population, leaders of health agencies in the Pacific region declared at the 7th Pacific Heads of Health meeting.

The three-day regional meeting also highlighted the importance of stronger efforts to combat NCDs, and the need for additional human resources for health development. Updates on the Healthy Islands Monitoring Framework, Pacific NCD Roadmap, Pacific Monitoring Alliance for NCD Action, Pacific NCD Legislative Framework, Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network, climate change and health security, immunization and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene were tabled and discussed during the meeting.

Dr. Merehau Mervin, deputy director of French Polynesia’s Ministry of Health and chairman of the 7th Pacific Heads of Health Meeting, said “one of the key topics that we have on the Heads of Health agenda regarding universal health coverage is to make sure everyone has access to health care which is sustainable, accessible and affordable. We also have items on climate change and immunization, human resources and training and water and sanitation issues.”

The role of PHoH is to ensure that the Pacific Health Ministers are provided with clear guidance, advice and support from their senior officials to ensure that informed decisions on policy options that address regional health issues of strategic importance at the annual Pacific Health Ministers Meeting (PMHM). The mandate of PHoH includes oversight of the implementation of the Pacific Healthy Islands Vision and regional priorities including those identified in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism.

Dr Paula Vivili, SPC’s director of the Public Health Division, said “the meeting outcomes inevitably cover a range of issues which demonstrates the different priorities each of the PICTs jurisdictions face. This is a reflection of the realities in the PICTs and is an opportunity for countries to work closely with partners and technical agencies to develop country specific solutions to address identified priorities.”

Adjunct Professor Debra Thoms, the Australian Government’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, and Australia’s head of delegation to the PHoH, highlighted importance of the meeting for the entire region, saying “Australia proudly supports many efforts to invest in Pacific health and is pleased to be a part of these important regional discussions, and to support SPC to host the meeting. The region benefits from working together closely, particularly on matters – like health security – that don’t always respect country borders.”

The Pacific Heads of Health will now review, discuss and prepare recommendations for the Pacific Health Ministers Meeting on universal health coverage and primary health care, the Healthy Islands monitoring framework, human resources for health, non-communicable disease, health security and reproductive, maternal and newborn child and adolescent health.

The 13th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting will be hosted by French Polynesia from Aug. 5 to 8, 2019.

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