Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM attends the Pacific Island Health Officers Association Meeting in American Samoa

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): April 21, 2010 - The 48th meeting of the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) took place in Pago Pago, American Samoa beginning on March 31, 2010. The theme for the conference was "The Health Impact of Climate Change" and more than 80 participants from across the Pacific attended the conference. Hon. Vita A. Skilling, FSM Secretary of Health and Social Affairs and the Directors of Health for the 4 FSM states participated in the meeting. Since this meeting took place only a few months after the earthquake and tsunami had hit American Samoa, another working issues was "emergency preparedness and response: preparing for the next disaster".

According to Secretary Skilling, she said that from the experts' presentations to the jurisdiction presentations, it was evident that the island nations in this region are living the effects of climate change such as frequent storms, floods, landslides, droughts, tidal surges, rising sea levels, increasing heat and less cooling breezes. These events have occurred in the FSM in the last 10-15 years."

Secretary Skilling indicated that all of these events impact the health and social welfare of the people in the region. She said there are the obvious problems of death and injuries from storms, floods and landslides and there are the diseases such as lung infections, intestinal diseases and skin diseases from the effects of any combination of the above events plus the threats that any of them has on health through the threat of less food supply, stress of population displacement and loss of shelters and other property. And she indicated that these diseases are obvious from the aspect of inadequate environmental hygiene and safety.

As an outcome of the meeting, PIHOA acknowledged all the events and supports the policies on climate change and its impacts on the health and livelihoods of the people in the region. In addition to this, PIHOA emphasized the fact that non-communicable diseases are also included in the emergencies that the region has to deal with because they will worsen with the added impacts of climate change on food supply, hygiene, population displacement, damage to shelters, and so on. As a result, PIHOA declared a "Health Emergency" on non-communicable diseases in the region. The declaration will be forwarded to the heads of States in the region for their support. PIHOA also drafted and signed a resolution acknowledging the collaboration and hard work of the people of American Samoa in their recuperation from the effects of their recent disaster.

Finally, a workshop that deals with the planning and implementation of activities for preparedness for the health impacts on climate change is scheduled to be held in the beginning of June 2010. It will be hosted by the FSM for the North Pacific and it is sponsored by the World Health Organization and funded by the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
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P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
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