It will be the second Pacific Health Ministers meeting hosted by the Cook Islands - the first was in 1997 where they adopted the “Rarotonga Agreement: Towards Healthy Islands”.
In a statement a World Health organisation spokesman said the meeting provided an opportunity to develop a consensus view of health in the Pacific and set future directions for health in the effort to build on the “Healthy Islands” concept.
The concept was developed in 1995 at the first meeting of the Ministers of Health for the Pacific Island Countries in Fiji and endorsed again in 1997 in Rarotonga.
“The Healthy Islands vision aspires to create and build a place where children are nurtured in body and mind and where the environment invites learning and leisure, where people work and age with dignity,” the spokesperson said.
“The vision has served as a unifying theme for health protection and health promotion in the Pacific and reflects the comprehensive and integrated approach to health that is a hallmark of the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific.
“It has been the foundation for meetings of the Ministers of Health that have followed every two years. These meetings and the ongoing work of health professionals, government ministries and donor partners have helped establish the Healthy Islands movement as a major public health force in the Pacific.
Over the years three themes have emerged at the meetings of the Pacific Ministers of Health:
• The predominant and growing burden of non- communicable diseases
• The lingering burden of infectious diseases and the dangers of their re-emergence
• The need to support health systems so that they can cope with this double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Subsequent biennial Pacific Ministers of Health meetings have reviewed progress towards the Healthy Islands vision in light of the changing health landscape.
The Cook Islands hosted the second Health Minister’s meeting in August 1997. The meeting was a follow up on the positive experience in implementing the Yanuca Island Declaration. It further reaffirmed the importance of partnership amongst communities, government departments and other sectors in resolving health issues.
The meeting further agreed on the future directions of the Healthy Islands approach, continuing the development of human resources for health and identifying actions to overcome obstacles to the implementation of bulk purchasing schemes for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies. The meeting also determined to extend the training in the practice of traditional medicine especially herbal medicine, acupuncture and other traditional health related practices.
Ten priorities were identified by the Ministers at the ninth Pacific Health Ministers Meeting in Honiara, Solomon Islands 2011.
The top four priorities were human resources; health information systems; mental health and the social determinants of health. Six additional priorities were clinical care; emerging and neglected diseases; disaster risk management; laboratories; health care financing and health leadership (aid effectiveness) and new technologies.
The tenth meeting, held in Apia, Samoa in 2013 provided an opportunity to progress towards the healthy islands vision. It followed up on progress towards commitments made during the Honiara meeting and further actions needed to scale up responses to such challenges as the non-communicable disease crisis affecting the Pacific and health workforce development.
“The last two meetings in Honiara and Apia have seen a shift in agenda planning, responding to suggestions that the process be more participatory and the host government lead the process,” the spokesman said.