PIHOA E-Blast: Chuuk Data for Decision Making Program Celebrates 12 Graduates

Chuuk, FSM – The Chuuk Department of Health Services (Chuuk DHS) honored 12 Data for Decision Making (DDM) program graduates last week.
The DDM program is a Fiji National University (FNU) accredited post-graduate certificate program that aims to train epidemiology technicians. The program consists of five modules delivered in-country to a cohort of health workers with data-related roles throughout the health department. To receive their certificates, DDM students must pass all modules and complete a final project.  
PIHOA Regional Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Program Support Officer Dioreme Navasca, and DDM Faculty, Dr. Ian Rouse, joined the celebration virtually, congratulating the graduates.
“By completing the DDM program, you all have taken an important role in enhancing your leadership skills and contributed to improving the overall public health capacity in your country. The ability of health agencies to collect, analyze, and make effective use of health information is critical to the success of health agency functions,” said Navasca. 
“You all have come a long way. I still remember the day we sent out invites to anyone interested in participating in the DDM program. Thank you, PIHOA, for ensuring the students got their certificates. Congratulations to all,” added Dr. Rouse.
PIHOA’s Regional Health Information Management System (HIMS) Initiative aims to assist member jurisdictions in addressing issues and limitations to the regional collation of surveillance data as well as improve the collection and use of data for planning and decision-making processes across a variety of domains, including but not limited to; vital statistics, community-based surveys, medical records, electronic health records (EHRs), disease registries, administrative data, and information technology networks.  
The HIMS Initiative was established by the PIHOA Board in 2010 and continues to be an integral aspect of PIHOA’s ongoing work. In March 2015, PIHOA Board Members endorsed the establishment of the Regional Epidemiology Unit comprised of PIHOA staff Epidemiologists and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Field Epidemiologists co-located with PIHOA. The latter collectively strengthen regional and jurisdiction-level surveillance and epidemiological capacities, systems and processes for non-communicable and infectious diseases, and other emerging, outbreak-prone diseases of public health significance. 
The Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific (SHIP) program is led by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with the FNU, PIHOA, CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO). SHIP is a surveillance system and capacity development initiative of SPC’s Pacific PH Surveillance Network (PPHSN). PIHOA is the lead implementing agency for SHIP in the USAPIs as a permanent member of the PPHSN Coordinating Body. SHIP is comprised of three tiers accredited by FNU: Post-Graduate Certificate (PGCert) in Applied Epidemiology (EpiTech), also known as DDM; Post-Graduate Diploma (PGDip) in Applied Epidemiology (Operational Research); and Masters in Applied Epidemiology.
“Not only is this a personal accomplishment for all 12 DDM graduates, but this is also a collective celebration for all of Chuuk State and the FSM. This would not be possible without your perseverance and discipline and most especially the unyielding support from your leaders and social networks,” added Navasca.
To date, 96 USAPI health staff have attained a PGCert in Applied Epidemiology. Along with Chuuk, 84 other graduates from American Samoa, Guam, Palau, Majuro, Ebeye, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Yap, successfully completed the DDM program. Stayed tuned for the next PIHOA E-Newsletter as we highlight DDM graduates throughout the region.