Pacific health educators explore collaboration

Health education providers from across the region have gathered at an inaugural meeting in Nadi to explore collaboration to meet the health education and research needs of Pacific island countries.

The three-day, ?Towards Health Professional Education (HPE) Collaboration in the Pacific? meeting is organised by the Fiji National University?s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

It is being attended by more than 10 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) including Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

Representatives from Fiji?s Higher Education Commission, the World Health Organisation, University of the South Pacific, University of New South Wales, Ministry of Health, Sangam School of Nursing, University of Fiji and the Australian Agency for International Development, AusAID, are attending the meeting.

The meeting has four objectives:

  • PICs are to be aware of (who, where, what) of Health Professional education programmes being offered in other PICs.
  • To discuss how Health Education providers can collaborate in terms of recognition of academic programmes.
  • To discuss how Health Education providers can collaborate in terms of health research.
  • To make recommendations on the way forward and how Health Education providers can be responsive to the health care needs of PICs.

The Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS), Professor Ian Rouse, said theunique meeting was convened with the idea that the Pacific Way of communication and collaboration can create key change.

?It intends to provide an opportunity for Health Education institutions from PICs to build a platform that is predicated on the idea that out of fragmentation comes collaboration, from diversity comes unity and from cross-fertilisation of ideas comes innovation,? he said.

Professor Rouse said the former Fiji School of Medicine has grown in student numbers, in programmes offered and in the number of countries covered, over the past 100 plus years.

?Over the past 80 or so years, the School has added programmes such as Dental Science, Public Health and Primary Care, Pharmacy, Medical Imaging and Medical Laboratory Science. In fact, with the merger a few years ago with the Fiji School of Nursing, the College now offers training in all key health areas,? he said.

?During the same period, we have seen the number of Health Education Institutions grow substantially in the Pacific. Every Pacific Island Country now has some form of post-secondary education and is contributing to the significant needs for trained health professionals.?

FNU