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Press conference at 12th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting


The Cook Islands is pleased to be hosting the 12th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting, and warmly welcomes our Delegates, Observers, and also our friends and family in the Cook Islands.

This year marks the twelfth Pacific Health Ministers Meeting and over the next couple of days we will discuss, deliberate and develop a consensus view of health in the Pacific and set future directions in the effort to build Healthy Islands an ideal that was envisioned in 1995.

At this twelfth Pacific Health Ministers meeting there have been efforts made this time to try streamlining a number of PHMM processes and to clarify several “grey areas” to set the scene for even more successful PHMM going into the future- and so we can only go from strength to strength.

Providing the type of health services that is accessible, affordable, and staffed by health care providers with right skill set mix is essential to meeting the Healthy Islands vision in ensuring that children and adults can grow, learn, play and age with dignity, as well as care for their environment. Combined with a focus on “family and community values, the foundation of Pacific culture” the Healthy Islands approach has strong links to the notion of health services for all or Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Each country should and are expected to define its own health system priorities and path to better health for all its citizens. In the Cook Islands, primary health care (PHC) has been an organizing principle for its health system as it encompasses a public health approach as well as individual care at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Cook Islands health system is currently challenged to respond to the NCD epidemic, health workforce issues, disasters (natural and human induced), emerging infectious diseases and outbreaks, ageing population and rising communities’ expectation on health care services. In addition, the Cook Islands Government and Te Marae Ora are committed to tackling health inequalities through targeted health promotion and better access to health care for those in need.

Te Marae Ora asserts that people and their participation remain at the centre of primary health care. In addition the whole system approach that includes prevention, diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation and long-term care continues to be seen from the perspective of the individual patient, with the appropriate structures set in place to produce sensible incentives and to direct limited resources more efficiently.

Te Papa Tutara A Te Marae Ora the Cook Islands 20 year Health Road Map presents a strategic direction for health care and health services for Te Marae Ora over the next two decades.

In the 20 year health road map, the health system attributes of Universal Health Coverage and the Healthy Islands Initiative have been taken into consideration alongside the CI National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP). There are three key focus areas of the road map and from where action domains and implementation strategies will be drawn. The focus areas include Strengthening Health Systems, Health Care Service Excellence and Public and Private Partnership. It is anticipated that 5 yearly strategic plans will be formulated to both strategize and implement the focus areas and action domains of the road map.

Working alongside the 20 year roadmap is the 5 year National Health Strategic Plan (2017-2021) for Ministry of Health which vision states; ‘All people living in the Cook Islands living healthier lives and achieving their aspiration’. This plan operationalises the 20 year rod map and provides a clear structure going forward.

Despite all of our efforts there is much more work to do and over the next three days I note a full agenda and I look forward to a productive and fruitful discussion which will ultimately manifest itself in better planning towards better health outcomes for our people.

I welcome you all and hope that you will enjoy our Cook Islands hospitality.

Kia Orana e Kia Manuia.