Steps are under way to improve the monitoring of progress of the Pacific’s Healthy Islands Vision, a concept developed by regional health ministers over 20 years ago to drive an integrated, holistic approach to health protection and promotion in the region.
The decision to create a Healthy Islands Monitoring Framework follows deliberations by senior health officials from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories at the Fourth Heads of Health meeting in Suva, Fiji, last week, based on an outcome of the Pacific Health Ministers meeting held in Fiji last year.
The meeting endorsed a list of thematic indicators (core, complimentary and optional) for the framework and tasked the Pacific Community (SPC) and WHO to progress the framework.
A workshop will be convened later this month where national health information managers will be invited to develop detailed definitions and data sources for the indicators.
“The 11th Pacific Health Ministers meeting at Yanuca Island, in Fiji, in 2015 recognised the absence of a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track the past 20 years of healthy islands initiatives and recognised the need to effectively monitor progress of the Health Islands Vision,” SPC’s Public Health Division Director, Dr Paula Vivili said.
“The development of a Healthy Islands Monitoring Framework will enable the Heads of Health to produce a progress report for next year’s Pacific Health Ministers meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands,” Dr Vivili said.
The Heads of Health meeting also noted progress in the implementation of the Pacific Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Roadmap but also recognised the need for further action to effectively tackle the NCD crisis in the region, which includes the acceleration of steps to tackle tobacco use, and the utilisation of taxes to support behavioural change.
In regards to maternal and reproductive health, the meeting acknowledged the current regional situation and approaches. A cost benefit analysis of approaches to prevent cervical cancer is progressing and a task force consisting of UN and regional agencies, including SPC, has been tasked with undertaking further consultation with relevant stakeholders and provide an update on outcomes to the Heads of Health.
Senior health officials were also informed on the Zika epidemic situation and acknowledged the serious implications of Zika outbreaks for Pacific health systems and the need for effective communication strategies to keep communities and the media accurately informed.
The Heads of Health meeting was established in 2013 in an effort to strengthen the regional health architecture and empower Pacific Island countries and territories to drive the regional agenda and decisions affecting health in the region. SPC provides the secretariat service for this forum with assistance from WHO and other partners.
Sunia Soakai,SPC Deputy-Director, Public Health Division, sunias [at] spc.int or +679 993 5034