At the 7th Pacific Heads of Health (PHoH) meeting, leaders declared that primary care and access to universal health care must be priorities for improving the health of the region’s population.
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 (MANA), Pacific NCD Legislative Framework, Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network, climate change and health security, immunisation and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) were tabled and discussed during the meeting.
The Chair for the 7th Pacific Heads of Health Meeting, Dr Merehau Mervin Deputy Director, Ministry of Health, French Polynesia, explained that “one of the key topics that we have on the Heads of Health agenda regarding Universal Health Coverage (UHC) 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 Minister’s 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.
SPC’s Director of the Public Health Division (PHD), Dr Paula Vivili, explained that “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 (PHMM) on universal health coverage (UHC) and primary health care, the Healthy Islands monitoring framework, human resources for health, non-communicable disease (NCD), health security and reproductive, maternal and newborn child and adolescent health.
The 13th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting will be hosted by French Polynesia from 5 – 8 August 2019.
The 7th PHoH Meeting was possible through funding support from the Australian government and facilitated through a collaboration of partners including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Aid, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Pacific Community (SPC), World Bank Group and World Health Organization (WHO), Fiji National University (FNU), Pacific Islands Health Officers Association (PIHOA), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the University of Fiji.