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Strengthening health information: a pressing need for the Pacific

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A research article just published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease reiterates the pressing need to strengthen health information in the Pacific, particularly in relation to data analysis, use and sharing.

The article focused on the findings and implications for the Pacific Islands of the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study.

The Pacific estimates in this important study show that lower respiratory infections, diabetes, and diarrhoea cause the greatest overall burden and mortality, and depression, low back pain, and anaemia cause the greatest disability in the region.

These results are likely to be a useful tool for assessing health priorities and informing policy and programming in the Pacific, but lead author, Dr Damian Hoy from SPC, states that ‘they need to be interpreted with some caution given that the estimates for the Pacific are derived from models built with very limited data’.

The authors explain in their paper that the greatest challenge in making the Pacific estimates is the paucity of data in the region ‘that have been analysed, synthesised and made publicly available’.

Pacific health ministers are aware of the need to strengthen data analysis and use in the region. In 2011, they recommended the ‘development of comprehensive training programmes to develop core competencies in ‘data techs’, ‘epi techs’ and epidemiologists’.

The article presents and discusses the work currently carried out by several networks and partners in the region to address this issue: the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) Data for Decision Making training course, various operational research courses and initiatives, the Brisbane Accord Group initiative to strengthen vital statistics systems and the Pacific Health Information Network training activities.

Another PPHSN training programme led by SPC, not listed in the article because it is still under development, focuses on Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific (SHIP). This new initiative received the support of Directors of Health at the end of April and it will be presented to Pacific Ministers of Health in July.

Altogether, the article stresses that all these initiatives have great potential to contribute to rapidly strengthening data analysis and ensuring that good quality health data are available in the region.

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Pacific partnerships to strengthen gender, climate change response and sustainable development

Monday, 19 May 2014

An innovative Pacific regional meeting to be held from 9 to 13 June in Nadi, Fiji, aims to advance the region’s interests in global United Nations bodies in key areas such as gender equality and climate change.

The meeting will bring together representatives of national, regional and global women-led civil society organisations (CSOs) and networks, national women’s machineries (NWMs) and high-level state representatives from New York missions and capitals to discuss, strategise and agree on priorities and political partnerships to advance gender, climate change and disaster risk reduction positions in the global sustainable development, post-2015 development and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change multilateral agendas. The high-level meeting on 13 June will be chaired by the Honourable Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu.

This initiative is co-convened by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality and the Pacific Youth Council. Other partners include Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, The Women’s Major Group on Sustainable Development, the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, the Global Fund for Women, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), with many others providing expertise, and financial and other resources.

With the Pacific Plan review underway as well as global processes such as preparation for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, Beijing+20 (the upcoming review of progress made in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and discussions on the post-2015 development agenda, this is a timely opportunity to strengthen partnerships and engagement for implementation of regional and global priorities on gender, climate change and sustainable development, with the aim of demonstrating concrete policy results, and also increasing support for women-led civil society groups and national women’s machineries in the Pacific region.

The process adopted in the meeting aims to accomplish the following objectives. Firstly, to strategise and agree on urgent and long-term Pacific priorities and state and civil society partnerships to advance transformative gender, climate change and DRR positions into the global sustainable development agenda. Secondly, participants will also identify how CSOs and NWMs can support negotiators from Pacific missions and capital as they position Pacific priorities in global advocacy tracks. Thirdly, participants will discuss how to strengthen mechanisms to monitor implementation of policies, promote transparency, accountability and dialogue throughout the global gender, sustainable development and climate change agendas.

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New Zealand Tops New Ranking For Assistance To Pacific

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Alfred Deakin Research Institute-Sustineo Pacific Index was launched in Canberra yesterday. It ranks and assesses 27 OECD countries on aid, trade, migration, finance, security, the creation and dissemination of new technologies and the promotion of environmental sustainability. New Zealand index score ranks nearly twice that of Australia — primarily because of its aid, migration and security efforts.

The top five donor countries in the Pacific region are: New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Finland and Portugal. However, it does not measure the aid given by China because of a lack of data. The authors say the index will be used for advocacy to get all rich countries to do more in the Pacific, and not just by increasing their aid.

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