Islands Business Feature- The State of Pacific Health
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 165,800 cases have been recorded in Pacific island countries and territories.
There have been more than 2400 deaths recorded. This is likely a massive undercount. According to the WHO, the death toll could be over 90,000. The total number of cases could exceed 2.6 million

The pandemic has exposed years of chronic under-funding, under-resourcing, and in some cases, corruption and mismanagement in Pacific health systems.

“Without donor assistance, health systems in the Pacific will not be able to cope,”

Pacific Community Deputy Director-General Dr Paula Vivili.


Countries are placing their hopes for economic recovery on vaccines. But new modelling suggests it may take Papua New Guinea five years to vaccinate just one-third of its citizens...

Scott Waide shares the story of his family's struggle to care for their ailing parents, both of whom were hospitalised with COVID-19.


... and COVAX has been an opportunity lost.

Dan McGarry argues that bilateralism has caused delays and confusion, and has needlessly politicised the public health response to the pandemic.


Preventing misinformation has been a key lesson of the pandemic.


Fiji has been an example to the region in its remarkable vaccination success, but as prepares to reopen its borders on December 1, concerns remain that it could lead to a third wave.

Solomon Islands hasn't experienced any community transmission, but how ready is it for the day when the virus inevitably comes? There are questions over how fit for purpose its isolation facilities are.


Meanwhile the Pacific’s other pandemic continues unabated. Three-quarters of deaths in the Pacific are related to non-communicable diseases, or NCDs.

In Palau, “the funding mechanism rewards a person to get sick and be referred out, instead of caring for health before bad things happen,”

Former health minister, Dr Victor Yano.


Still, efforts to contain NCDs continue. Vanuatu’s Malapoa College now serves only local food, hoping to develop health eating habits in the country’s young.


So what have we learnt from COVID? As citizens we need to demand greater accountability over management and funding of our health systems.

We need to do this for our most vulnerable community members, and for the health workers who have had almost two long years at the COVID frontline.

And we need to take personal responsibility for our own health, through what we eat, how we exercise, and how we talk about health choices such as vaccination with our families and communities.

Design: Dan McGarry; Contributors: Ben Bilua, Bernadette Carreon, Suliane Favennec, Dan McGarry, Kevin McQuillan, Len Garae, Mere Nailatikau, Nic Maclellan, Scott Waide, Ariela Zibiah, Samantha Magick.

Copyright 2021 Islands Business Magazine