Pasifika Medical Association 23rd Conference on The Rock of Polynesia, Niue
‘The Rising Tide’ was the theme for Pasifika Medical Associations (PMA) 23rd Conference held at the Matavai Scenic Resort, on the rock of Polynesia, Niue from 24 – 26 September. The colourful event was attended by over 140 delegates from throughout the Pacific who represented different parts of the health sector.
Conference delegates, including guest of honour Hon. Henry Puna – Prime Minister of Cook Islands, were warmly welcomed to Niue at a cocktail party on the evening before the official opening, by proud son of Niue – Conference Convenor Dr Colin Tukuitonga. The SPC Director General partnered with PMA and the Niue Department of Health to host the conference. “We know our conference theme resonates with our Pacific people because we see first-hand, alongside the Pacific leaders of our region, the impacts and implications of the climate change crisis facing our Pacific people” said PMA CEO Debbie Sorensen. With a wealth of knowledge and expertise at the conference, presentations covered four broad themes: Climate Change, Non-Communicable Diseases, Mental Health, and Workforce Development.
Hon Henry Puna in his keynote address reminded delegates that “climate change impacts on every sector of society – health, education, food security, land, and sea, these all influence the way we live our culture and future. Climate change and health therefore must never be viewed in isolation” said the Cook Islands Prime Minister. Hon Puna recognised the work of PMA and its members in helping Pacific leaders address health concerns throughout the region.
Hon Billy Talagi, Niue Minister of Health in his opening address, enlightened delegates with Niue’s progress on tackling tobacco. The Tobacco Control Act 2018 has seen the price for a 20 packet of cigarettes rise from NZ$13 to NZ$35, Hon Talagi said “this has resulted in Niue having the lowest rates of smoking per capita in the Pacific”.
Following the presentations on the last day, a series of statements were developed under the four broad themes and signed off by the conference convenor and the PMA CEO, “The purpose of the statements is to send a message to our Pacific leaders about areas that need to be addressed to strengthen the health of Pacific people” said Debbie Sorensen.
The conference concluded with a night of festivities at Hakupu Village where delegates were treated to delicious Niuean cuisine that included the famous uga and takihi made by the Hakupu Women’s Association.