NZ Pacific Covid-19 Webinar Series: Lessons from the Pacific region

The Cook Islands has been one of the few countries in the world to be Covid-19 free during the worldwide pandemic. The Secretary of Health for the Cook Islands, Dr Aumea Herman, says her department has been working tirelessly to protect their families and they can’t afford to let their guard down.

“As much as we are pleased by how far we’ve come, there is another part of me that can’t relax because this virus will do nasty things to our country if we drop our guard.”

Dr Herman will be one of the guest speakers in the third and final webinar session today discussing the Covid-19 response and strategies within the Pacific community. This last instalment will focus on how the health leaders and departments in the Pacific Islands are mitigating the crisis.

Dr Herman has been the leading medical advisor to the Cook Islands government during the pandemic and says the hard work they’ve taken to keep the virus at bay has put a strain on other medical resources.

“We closed the boarders and eliminated the threat and people have enjoyed their freedom of movement. As a result, we have had a very exhausted health workforce because we have pushed ourselves to be the very best.  

We are not only preparing for Covid-19, but we still must continue to deal with illnesses that come through our health system, like diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Covid-19 hasn’t turned that off. We are trying to do business as usual as we mitigate the threat of this new virus.”

The webinars are co-hosted by the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and the University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. 

PMA president, Dr Kiki Maoate, ONZM, FRACS and PMA senior member Dr Colin Tukuitonga, DSM, MPH, FAFPHM, FRNZCGP will be facilitating the discussions.

Along with Dr Herman, the other guest speakers include Dr Paula Vivili, Director, Public Health Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific (SPC), Dr Siale Akauola, CEO, Ministry of Health Tonga and Dr James Fong, Acting Health Secretary, Ministry of Health, Fiji.

Dr Herman says people should tune in to hear what the Cook Islands learned during the pandemic.

She says that the Cook Islands Government is currently talking to the New Zealand Government about the possibility of opening the borders between the two countries with the safety of their people and protection from Covid-19 being their primary focus.

“We are now moving into a space where we need to help recover our economy. People are enjoying their freedom of movement and do not want to entertain the idea of quarantine free travel, which is currently under review.

It’s very clear that any response needs good governance, good leadership and good public health expertise.”

The final Webinar in the series is today, Friday 20 November 2020 from 1pm – 3pm.

To join this event please see link here which includes zoom link details.

Follow the Facebook event here.

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Date: Friday 20 November 2020