Pacific island health WHO report for 2014-2015

The Healthy Islands vision has guided work to enhance health in Pacific island countries and areas since it was first endorsed by Pacific health ministers in 1995. As countries and partners strive towards this vision, WHO’s Division of Pacific Technical Support has launched a report of activities and achievements in 2014 and 2015.

The Healthy Islands vision
The Healthy Islands vision is of islands where children are nurtured in body and mind; environments invite learning and leisure; people work and age with dignity; ecological balance is a source of pride; and the ocean which sustains us is protected.

In 2015, the Pacific health ministers proposed recommendations in four overarching themes to accelerate efforts towards this vision: strengthening leadership, governance and accountability; nurturing children in body and mind; reducing avoidable disease burden and premature deaths; and promoting ecological balance. WHO in the Pacific 2014–2015 is framed around these four themes.

Dr Liu Yunguo, Director, Division of Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative in the South Pacific introduces the report explaining: “this report shows WHO’s contribution in cooperation with ministries of health and other partners to support the achievement of the Healthy Islands vision”.

Highlights from 2014–2015
Key achievements in 2014–2015 include:

  • In strengthening regional health security, eight State Parties have met the International Health Regulations (2005) core capacity requirements and the remaining five are on track to reach the June 2016 deadline.
  • Eight countries and areas increased tobacco taxes by an average of 21% and two strengthened tobacco control legislation.
  • Eleven countries and areas have maintained high national immunization coverage at more than 90% and new vaccines have been introduced in four countries.
  • Five countries submitted dossiers for verification of elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem and six countries have data indicating achievement of the regional hepatitis B control goal.
  • Thirteen countries have improved health sector preparedness with national climate change and health action plans. Six countries have improved safe drinking-water supplies.

Future directions
As the Pacific continues to be guided by the unifying vision of Healthy Islands and seeks to achieve universal health coverage, WHO will be working with Member States to address five priority areas:

  • the escalation of NCDs and associated disabilities;
  • the continuing challenges of communicable diseases and neglected tropical diseases;
  • the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals, focusing on maternal and child health and the expanded agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • high vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change; and
  • limited health infrastructure, and human, material and financial resources.