Regional Policy and Engagement
PIHOA declared a regional state of health emergency in May 2010 (PIHOA Resolution 48-01) due to the epidemic of non‐communicable diseases (NCDs) in the USAPIs, and from there set a course for action unprecedented in the Pacific islands for a united, multi-layered response to NCDs. Utilizing an incident command structure, PIHOA continues to support the following: 1) sounding the alert amongst health, executive, legislative, and traditional leadership to respond to and elevate actions to combat NCDs; 2) enhance and maintain the USAPI NCD Core Monitoring and Surveillance Framework, including on-going technical support to USAPI health agencies to develop and implement their national/state-level NCD Monitoring and Evaluation Plans, Annual NCD Profiles, and NCD Data Dashboards, and conduct national NCD Hybrid Surveys (see HIMS section below); 3) implement the USAPI NCD Policy Strategy Roadmap and NCD Policy Commitment Package, including development of the on-line USAPI NCD Policy Toolkit in partnership with the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH JBASOM); and, 4) actively participate as Coordination Team member of the wider Pacific Monitoring Alliance for NCD Action (MANA), a sub-committee of the Pacific Heads of Health supported by SPC and WHO.
PIHOA members achieved a critical turning point in their relationship with HHS in recent years. In March 2014, PIHOA members endorsed the HHS-PIHOA Communications Policy (affirmed again in March 2015 under PIHOA Resolution 57-02). This policy outlines an agreement between PIHOA and HHS leadership to engage in a more strategic and consistent manner using the PIHOA Board meeting process as one of several mechanisms whereby HHS officials can engage directly with PIHOA members collectively, seek guidance and feedback on Pacific priorities that inform HHS policy-making, and to update PIHOA members on items of importance impacting HHS work in the Pacific. This policy also further outlines processes where PIHOA members can collectively advocate for issues of importance that require high-level HHS leadership attention and response. To date, some milestones achieved include expansion of the Pacific Liaison office, staff and function under the Region 9 HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary funded under the Office of Minority Health, re-constituting of the HHS Inter-Agency Insular Area Policy Working Group, and establishment of 3 sub-working groups focused on Pacific health workforce development, Veterans Affairs, and grants management. Through this HHS inter-agency group and its sub-committees, PIHOA has been able to more effectively advocate for Pacific priorities with HHS leadership.
Ms. Emi Chutaro, MSc