Some Pacific Island countries and territories have met the goal set by the World Health Organization of having 4.5 health workers per 1000 islanders.
The World Bank statistics suggest that health allocation of Pacific Island countries is ranging from 3% to 14%, in which 82% is borne by the governments, 8% comes from private contributions, and the rest comes from foreign aid.
The Pacific region also seems to fare better than other parts of the globe in weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rest of the world struggles to contain the number of infections and deaths, most of the Pacific Island countries have managed to keep the virus at bay.
It still needs to be underlined, however, that the distribution of vaccines plays an important role in the resumption of economic activities, which is greatly dependent on the movements of people. Australia and New Zealand have extended their assistance in the procurement of vaccines to the Pacific Island countries, in line with Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19 (PHP-C). Australia and New Zealand have also contributed to the COVAX Facility – an international mechanism to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country and economy to COVID-19 vaccines – to help 92 Advance Market Commitment (AMC) eligible countries and economies to cover 20 percent of their population at no cost.
Nevertheless, more needs to be done to ensure that the whole Pacific population is covered in the vaccination program. In addition, equipping the Pacific Island countries with adequate health infrastructure is key in strengthening their resilience. According to the WHO, 10 out of the 14 Pacific Island countries spend US$500 or less per capita per year on health expenditure, compared to the global average at around $1000 per year. Pacific Islands countries are also prone to non-communicable diseases due to, among others, limited access to healthcare and limited health facilities, despite the efforts of local governments and donors to improve the situation.
The speakers in the Health Forum are expected to share their experience and insights in the public health policies in their respective countries. Issues to be raised and discussed shall also include development cooperation in the health sectors, as well as public-private partnerships to meet the demand and requirement in health in the Pacific region.The target audience of the forum is decision makers, practitioners and experts in public health, as well as related private sectors.