Creating opportunities and building capacity for Pacific women in Health


In the Pacific is the landscape changing for Women in health? We know that Pacific health systems and infrastructures are fragile but there is always room for improvement and to lobby for change, ensuring our national plans are providing equal opportunities for Women.

I have worked in the health sector for the past 25 years and I am currently the Director for the Public Health Division (PHD) at the Pacific Community (SPC) and one of our focus areas is to provide more support for capacity building opportunities for Women in health.

In the Pacific, 75% of Women represent the nursing workforce and 48% of Women are doctors (2020). We are witnessing more Women in health, taking up opportunities to study further and specialise. In the past 5 years of the training opportunities funded by SPC, 64% are Women. SPC have been fortunate to facilitate these opportunities for Women in Health with support from development partners such as AFD, DFAT, EU and MFAT.

When we think of Women in health, typically what comes to mind is nurses mainly. However, I can say that over the years, Women are stepping up into senior leadership roles. The Pacific Heads of Health and the Pacific Heads of Nurses and Midwifery meeting held last year saw Women take centre stage, share presentations and lobby for recommendations that benefit the Pacific region.

As a division, 62% of our staff are women with 3 out of the 5 team leader roles are led by women. Breaking the bias to create equal opportunities starts from within and we look forward to working closely with the Pacific Women Lead program at SPC.

I will continue to support for Women in health in the Pacific region with a focus on opportunities for continuing professional development and leading health.

Blog Category
Public Health


Dr Berlin Kafoa

Director, Public Health Division (Noumea)

Dr Berlin Kafoa has over 20 years of experience in the health sector, at national, regional and international level. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of the South Pacific as well as a Master of Public Health from the University of New South Wales. He is one of the very few Pacific public health physicians who is a Fellow of Public Health from the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom. His research and publications focussed on injury prevention, medical workforce and medical education.

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