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Whole of government approach’ needed to address health challenges says SPC Director-General

ImageWednesday 29 June 2011, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Honiara, Solomon Islands

Director-General of SPC Dr Jimmie Rodgers said long-term solutions to health challenges in the Pacific Island region require a dedicated ‘whole of government approach’ and ‘whole of community approach’.

Dr Rodgers explained that, with a whole of government approach, health ministers would find it easier to address the health challenges that each of their countries faces. ‘It will actually be government policy to direct the attention so that they will have a good health outcome,’ he said.

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Regional Health Ministers to call for global attention to Pacific NCD epidemic

ImageWednesday 29 June 2011, WHO/SPC, Honiara, Solomon Islands

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-Soo said it is extremely important that issues relating to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific Islands are addressed by leaders at the United Nations High-level Meeting on NCD prevention and control in September this year.

At a press conference during the Ninth Meeting of the Ministers of Health for the Pacific Island Countries in Honiara Dr Shin said that NCDs are increasing exponentially in the Pacific Islands.   

NCDs, principally cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory illnesses and diabetes, are responsible for about 75% of deaths in the Pacific Islands.

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Strengthening influenza surveillance in the Pacific

ImageA workshop aimed at reviewing and strengthening current influenza surveillance systems in the Pacific Island region was held in Fiji last week.

Outbreaks of influenza can occur at any time of the year in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), with the continual movement of people in and out of the region. The disease can also spread easily between PICTs, as demonstrated during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

‘We try to make sure that all PICTs, including the most remote islands, can send samples for testing to laboratories for detection and identification of influenza viruses,’ said Salanieta Elbourne, Laboratory Specialist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

It is crucial for PICTs to be able to detect and confirm outbreaks of influenza quickly in order to respond effectively.

Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Deputy Director-General of SPC, emphasised at the opening of the workshop that‘Curtailing the spread of influenza is important because it not only affects the health of the population, it also impacts on the social, economic and financial aspects of a nation.’

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SPC backs team approach for Vanuatu health

ImageSPC is supporting a new team approach by development partners to help Vanuatu deliver its national health strategy. At a ceremony on 25 January in Port Vila, Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman, pictured left, signed the joint partnership arrangement (JPA) between his government and development partners AusAID, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and SPC for the delivery of the Vanuatu Health Sector Strategy 2010-2016. Others pictured are from left to right: Minister for Health Don Ken, Director Public Health, Len Tarivonda (drinking on behalf of Health Minister), Australian High Commissioner Jeff Roach, and Chief Liaison Officer WHO. Dr Bernard Fabre-teste. Director of SPC's Public Health Division, Mr Bill Parr, signed on behalf of SPC which is a member on the joint partnership working group.

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Regional Workshop "LabNet 2010"
ImageSECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY / FIJI SCHOOL OF MEDECINE
JOINT PRESS RELEASE

A major gathering of Pacific human and animal health laboratory professionals took place from 1 to 4 November 2010 in Suva, Fiji Islands to assess current laboratory testing and specimen shipment procedures in relation to identifying and controlling priority epidemic diseases such as dengue fever, influenza, typhoid fever and cholera.

The 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 reminded us how easily epidemic diseases can spread from country to country, including in the Pacific. It is very important for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to have access to laboratory tools to detect epidemic diseases quickly in order to minimise their health and socioeconomic impacts.

The workshop was organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the Fiji School of Medicine (FSMed) and other partners under the framework of the Pacific Public Health Laboratory Network (LabNet).

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Women are central to the battle on NCDs, conference hears

The central role of women in the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific was reaffirmed at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at SPC headquarters in Noumea.

ImageUnited Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reproductive health adviser Dr Wame Baravilala, back row second from right, at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Noumea (SPC Photograph, 18 August 2010). 

SPC Healthy Lifestyle section head Dr Viliami Puloka told the conference on August 18 that NCDs in the Pacific were of a tsunami magnitude.

‘But unlike tsunamis, NCDs are sticking around,’ he said.

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