30 Mar 2018

Call for united approach to tackle health issues in US Pacific

4:12 pm on 30 March 2018

The Pacific Island Health Officers Association says there needs to be a more united approach to tackling health issues in countries and territories associated with the US.

Empty hospital bed, generic

Photo: 123RF

The association is holding its 63rd annual meeting in American Samoa this week.

Speaking during the opening ceremony the acting president of the association's board of directors, Kaleni Kaneko, called on member countries to work together to resolve health issues.

Mr Kaneko, who is also the health minister of the Marshall Islands, also appealed to federal partners for more funding and support to help countries and territories achieve their health objectives.

"There is no one island can tackle health alone. That is why I call us the blue continent. And there is no one people that can tackle health issues alone. So we have to come together and we have to work toghether. PIHOA is what brings us together, PIHOA is our anchor."

Non-communicable diseases were the topic of the meeting's first discussion and panelist Haley Cash from Palau spoke about how there was a large portion of the population living with undiagnosed diabetes who were not getting treatment as a result.

Dr Cash said one of the reasons for this was people were not looking after themselves properly.

"So people are stressed, you know people have to work and take care of their family and there is customary obligations. So health is not seen as a priority.

"So if you do have diabetes or an NCD, you know that may not be the top thing on your list to take care of because there is a lot of other competing priorities."

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