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Strengthening epidemic preparedness key focus of Pacific health surveillance network

20 July 2015


A major meeting of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) on strengthening capacity building and preparedness to epidemics and other public health emergencies opens today in Nadi, Fiji.

Organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in consultation with PPHSN partners, the meeting gathers over 50 public health laboratory and surveillance officials from across the Pacific.

Surveillance, preparedness and response to epidemics of infectious diseases, such as dengue, are the priorities of the PPHSN network, which will celebrate 20 years of existence next year.

In her opening remarks, Assistant Minister of Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Hon Veena Kumar Bhatnagar, acknowledged the important role of the acclaimed network.

”This meeting provides the opportunity to renew networks and discuss issues and problems that are common to all countries of the Pacific region in combating infectious diseases affecting us,” Hon. Veena Kumar Bhatnager said. 

SPC’s Chief of Staff, Patricia Sachs-Cornish, said ”SPC is eager to continue supporting an enhanced preparedness to public health emergencies in view of global trends such as climate change.”

Development of national capacities in epidemiology and data analysis, and dissemination for decision making, is also a key strategy of the network.

A newly implemented training and capacity development programme for ‘Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific (SHIP)’ will be featured at the meeting.

Over 150 Pacific Islands’ health professionals from 15 Pacific Island countries and territories have already been trained in surveillance and response to public health alerts through the SHIP programme’s data for decision making training modules.

Twenty-six of the trained personnel are on their way to graduate from Fiji National University early next year as the first-ever cohort of Epi technicians in the region.

The success of this large-scale training programme can be attributed to the engagement and collaboration of many partners of PPHSN: ministries of health of Pacific Island countries and territories, the Pacific Island Health Officers Association, Hunter New England Local Health District in Australia, Fiji National University, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the University of Guam and SPC.

”SPC is proud of the support it has been able to provide to its islands member through the PPHSN partnership and will continue to do its best to nurture such a precious partnership,” Mrs Sachs-Cornish said.

The meeting runs until Wednesday 22 July and is made possible with funding from SPC, the New Zealand Aid Programme, the Australian Government and the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media contact
Christelle Lepers, Surveillance Information and Communication Officer at SPC, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 679 8662932

Useful link: Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network:

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 August 2015 )