Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muna lauded the successful meeting of the 11th Pacific Health Ministers held recently in Fiji.
The meeting solely focused on the Healthy Islands Journey project that was forged 20 years ago to improve the health of Pacific islanders.
The meeting was held on April 15 to 17 with the hope that health officials in the region would address specific issues, set target dates, and try to meet their goals before the deadlines.
The health of people in the Pacific has improved in the last 20 years but progress has been slow compared to other parts of the world. This could result in the Pacific region falling behind on the healthcare needs of its people.
In the meeting that drew the participation of the World Health Organization, the CNMI, Guam, more than 10 Pacific island nations, special participants, observers, consultants, and secretariats, everyone agreed that increased coordination is needed to address the vision of “Healthy Islands” for its 20th anniversary.
These include five visions where (1) children are nurtured in body and mind; (2) environments invite learning and leisure; (3) people work and age with dignity; (4) ecological balance is a source of pride; and (5) the ocean, which sustains us, is protected.
“They had all the Pacific health leaders come to the meeting to decide if the declaration that was made 20 years ago should continue or if we’re going to add something else,” Muña said.
“We decided that we wanted to go ahead and continue with it. There were some improvements since the declaration 20 years ago, but we still need to do more. With that declaration, WHO will go to the regional office and meet with the head of WHO on what the Pacific islands need,” she added.
Funding and support will then be included into WHO’s budget to support the Healthy Islands initiative.
“What we added this time to the declaration are target dates and trying to decide whether it should be regional or incorporated for the entire islands,” Muña said.
When asked if there were any target dates for the CNMI, Muna conceded that there wasn’t any target date yet.
“What we decided is to come up with our own target date in the CNMI. What we need to do is to work with someone on statistics and look at the current data and basically put a specific target date on what we’re going to do for a specific issue within those years,” she said.
One of the biggest issues on island is non-communicable diseases. However, despite all the talks on NCDs, it just keeps rising.
“So what are we doing? We need outcomes and the healthy islands is catered to promoting the project,” Muña said.
CHCC is looking into possibly reopening the Transitional Living Center and possibly having a home for people that need caretakers for mental health.