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I have worked in the Pacific health sector for the past 20 years and continue to witness our region advance and evolve with its health service delivery, resources, and health expertise and progress steadily towards the Healthy Islands Vision.

The Pacific Community (SPC) and its Public Health Division work in the region to support PICTs by providing technical assistance, advise, supporting capacity development and improving health service delivery and resources.

As we commemorate World Health Day, I would like to commend the hard work and sacrifice put in by Pacific health and frontline workers and their families, colleagues, partners, and donors because without our combined efforts the PICTs would have faced much more difficulties.

I also acknowledge SPC colleagues that have been deployed to Kiribati, Tonga, and Vanuatu along with our partners to ensure PICTs are well supported on the ground.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided many Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) the opportunity to relook at their health capabilities and capacities allowing advancements in critical areas.

The Clinical Services team at SPC has supported capacity development for nurses and in the past 2 years 400 nurses have been trained in areas related to critical COVID-19 management. Through the assistance of the Lab Strengthening Team at SPC, PICTs have strengthened their laboratory testing capacity. We now have 17 labs that can conduct PCR testings for COVID-19. Recently at the 14th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting the Pacific Legislative Framework for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was endorsed which is timely given that NCDs are still a major threat and accounts for 75% premature mortality.

This year, we are also celebrating 25 years of the Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN). PPHSN was created 25 years ago (in December 1996) under the joint auspices of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in close consultation with the 22 PICTs and development partners.

Over the years it has established 6 service networks addressing surveillance such as PacNet, LabNet and the Pacific Syndromic Surveillance System: Response arm including EpiNet and PICNet and Preparedness arm being the SHIP/DDM capacity building program according to needs of countries.

All this work and achieving critical milestones as such would not be possible without the continued support from our donors such as AFD, DFAT, EU, MFAT and USAID.

These partnerships and networks are exemplary of how far we have grown and evolved in providing development opportunities for our Pacific region to advance in health.

While we reflect on the past achievements and celebrate the present state of health in PICT’s, there is still much work to be done so that future generations can remain healthy and enjoy a more fruitful productive life.