Pacific Health Governance Network ‘single most important development for public health related research in decades’
The Pacific Health Governance Network has published its Workshop Two Summary Report, providing insights on the future of the network and the Pacific health challenges it needs to tackle.
The newly released summary report from the second workshop of the Pacific Health Governance Network (PHGRN), calls for the creation of a web based data hub, greater access to training and knowledge exchange opportunities, and stronger ties between health professionals from academia, government, and multilateral organizations in Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries.
The workshop, which was hosted by Fiji National University (FNU), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the University of Queensland (UQ) was held in Nadi, Fiji from 20-22 February. Sessions were focused on priority areas for Pacific health research including; Climate Change and Health, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, Health Systems and Universal Coverage, Non-Communicable Diseases and Food Systems and Health Security.
More than 100 participants from across the pacific took part in in panel and break-out sessions which explored ongoing health challenges, mitigation strategies and stories of success from across the region. The workshop summary report identifies three key areas of agreement that came out of the meeting, which will be priorities for the network in the coming year.
First, the benefit of PHGRN as a platform to develop and advance public health experiences was acknowledged. The Pacific Community and the University of Queensland have invested more than 200,000 AUD over the past 2 years to support and host workshops and meetings and the success of these activities has led to a strong demand to expand the scope of the annual meetings and invest in supporting more specialized sessions.
The Chair of the Heads of Health and Secretary for Health of the Cook Islands, Dr Josephine Herman, was unequivocal in stressing the need to make further investments in the PHGRN platform stating that, ‘the network constitutes the single most important development in Pacific health related research and partnership in decades.’
The second area of priority identified by PHGRN was an expansion of capacity building and training opportunities. There is a strong and growing demand from across the PHGRN membership to engage in training, mentorship and other professional knowledge exchange opportunities. The summary report recommends the development of short accredited development courses and funded PHD placements in Australian and New Zealand Universities for Pacific scholars.
The University of Queensland’s Dr Owain Williams, highlighted the significance the training and education support recommendations of the workshops saying, ‘with funding there is an opportunity to develop research capacity in the Pacific, and start making a genuine platform for training and knowledge generation by those who will carry the region forward under the SDGs’.
Fiji National University’s (FNU), Dr. Donald Wilson emphasised the value of PHGRN to academic institutions and to students. “It is pertinent that what we teach our students is based on up to date, local evidence and is generated through scientifically-sound research methods. The PHGRN meeting in Nadi was an opportunity to again understand the local health challenges of our region, and re-prioritize our research investments.”
The workshop summary report suggests the creation of a web based knowledge repository for health and SDGs. The lack of access to centralized Pacific database was highlighted as one of the most significant challenges to the research required to support the regions health related SDG objectives. The report calls for an investment into a practical information hub of SDG related studies and reports, and the development of digest publication which would highlight new additions to the hub, and encourage continuous knowledge exchange.
SPC Director-General, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga noted the importance of providing better access to information, “The exchange of knowledge and experience is fundamental for us to gain the understanding we need to tackle the serious health challenges we face in the Pacific. SPC believes that an investment in strengthening PHGRN gives the entire region a clear path towards better health outcomes.”
The full text of the summary report, including all session summary can be downloaded through the following link: