WASHINGTON—U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has directed the Office of Insular Affairs to authorize a partial funding amount of $721,320, to the Ministry of Health in the Republic of the Marshall Islands for the Four Atoll Health Care Program for the people of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok. Zinke is concerned about the threat to the continuity of services under this program.
“The Marshall Islands played an important role in American and world history, and remains a key component of our military readiness in the Pacific,” said Zinke. “Looking after the health and wellness of our extended American family is a key component of upholding commitments to one another.”
“We look to Congress to help us meet these important commitments on behalf of the U.S. government for the people of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok” said Assistant Secretary Douglas Domenech.
Originally funded under the first Compact of Free Association, these services are now provided through the discretionary technical assistance program and require congressional authorization and appropriation every year.
Through the program, healthcare services and overall wellness programs are provided for over 18,000 people from the four nuclear-affected atolls in the Marshall Islands.
The program covers dental services, women’s health and cancer screening, diabetes screening and control, eye services in collaboration with the Canvas Back Eye Mission, immunization coverage, reduction of infant mortality, and surveillance of tuberculosis and leprosy.
The total requested for fiscal year 18 is $1.4 million.
The program provides basic health services for people from the four atolls in the Marshall Islands impacted by the nuclear weapons testing program which the U.S. Department of Defense carried out in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958. (PR)