Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Noumea, New Caledonia

Thursday, November 15, 2012

SPC To Provide Health Support For 2013 Pacific Mini Games

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and Wallisian authorities are discussing final arrangements for the provision of public health surveillance support during the 2013 Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna.

‘Up-to-date public health surveillance is crucial at such events as it helps detect early signs of health issues that could potentially spread quickly through a large gathering of people in one location and then internationally,’ says Dr. Yvan Souarès, Manager of SPC’s Public Health Division’s Health Protection Programme.

Dr. Souarès and his team recently carried out similar work, with great success, during the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Solomon Islands in July.

Working in collaboration with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, Honiara City Council, the World Health Organization and the Festival Organising Committee, SPC’s Public Health Division and Human Development Programme integrated a public health surveillance system in the committee’s overall activities using the existing syndromic surveillance system at the National Reference Hospital in Honiara.

Eight syndromes were monitored for five weeks. Each day, data collected from 13 sentinel sites were captured in a web-based system developed jointly with SPC’s Statistics for Development Programme specifically for this purpose.

The festival committee received daily health reports and the information was shared regionally through PacNet (Pacific Health Communication and Alert Network).

Two public health events – a steady increase in cases of diarrhea, and two imported cases of dengue fever – triggered the systems and launched immediate responses and investigations.

Both events were addressed immediately, signifying the effectiveness of the system in protecting the health of the local population and of visitors.

Under international health regulations, major gatherings such as the Pacific Mini Games, which are scheduled for 2 to 12 September 2013, need to be underpinned by good surveillance capacity.

Dr. Souarès adds that SPC will be working closely with the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) Partners, especially French surveillance authorities and Wallis and Futuna health services, and will use the opportunity to also carry out health promotion activities, particularly on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

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