The Kiribati government and New Zealand's Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) have joined forces in their efforts to improve the health outcomes for i-Kiribati people.
This is after the Kiribati Health and Medical Services Ministry and ESP signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Wellington on Monday.
The partnership is expected to help pave the way for research projects aiming to improve outcomes in key health areas identified by the Kiribati Health Ministry "as most important for their communities".
These areas include antimicrobial resistance, water quality and addressing unacceptably high morbidity and mortality from the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Kiribati Minister of Health Dr Tinte Itinteang said that capacity building is a cornerstone of this collaboration.
"We envision a future where our healthcare and police professionals have access to cutting edge training and knowledge transfer programs facilitated by ESR," he said.
The the MoU builds on a long history for ESR of supporting Kiribati, an island nation facing particular threats due to rising sea levels, the institute said.
It said that past research, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has addressed water quality, sanitation and hygiene, exploring questions such as the effectiveness of the island's coral sand in removing micro-organisms from septic tank wastewater systems.
"ESR's forensic team will also meet with a representative from the Kiribati Police Service who is accompanying the MHMS delegation to explore how ESR's expertise can support their work."
Recently, ESR was invited to Kiribati's Health Sector Coordination Committee Meeting, highlighting shared priorities in areas including climate change and health, infectious disease testing and surveillance, and health digitisation.
ESR chief executive Peter Lennox said it is important to work together to address global challenges.
"We are very much of the mindset that a safe, sustainable, healthy and prosperous Pacific benefits all of Aotearoa New Zealand," he said.
"Responding to challenges like climate change require all hands to the deck - including science expertise, political leaders and local communities. It's by drawing on our complementary expertise and experiences that we can ensure that any research we undertake together will benefit communities directly.
"We are honoured to be working with our Pacific neighbours on these huge questions and challenges that are not of their making, but that impact their communities profoundly," he added.