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Published: 08.08.2023
Drew Keys Regional Manager Western Pacific
Quenelda Clegg Senior Programme Manager (Head of Programme Quality and Operations)
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ
Peter Raynes Programme Director
The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ
PacEyes banner

June was a very busy month for the IAPB Western Pacific and it all kicked off with a Party in the Pacific to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the foundation of PacEYES. Many of the 20-year veterans were present including the stirring key-note speaker Dr Paulo Vivili, Deputy Director General of South Pacific Community. Dr Paulo called on PacEYES to celebrate the success of the past two decades and to refocus and re-frame as we enter a new decade.

IAPB was proud to support the conference, especially with design and communications elements and to take part in PacEYES review process. We also very much enjoyed working with colleagues from across the islands on a special micro-workshop focusing on the challenges of advocacy (how do you make your voice heard with all of the competing post-pandemic priorities?)

In the spirit of the 20th Anniversary celebration this workshop was fun. A role-playing sub-regional Public Health Assembly was established for the afternoon – Nurse Tima the incorrigible (and very strict), President. Together with her team of councilors the would-be advocates were put through their paces. Participants were divided into fictional interest groups – a Disability Advocates Group, an Island Hospital Association, an NGO Forum, a Nurses Association, a National University Lobby Group and a Pacific Bankers Association. For all of our fearless team members this was new territory – but they still managed to land some significant and pertinent points. These are relevant right across Pacific Islands, for governments, providers and practitioners as we deliver 2030 In Sight.

  • Aligning advocacy initiatives with UN declarations and increasing support for

HR, Advocacy, policy and project management

  • Strengthen HR through:
    • closing gaps in referral pathways and improving primary delivery this will improved working conditions and reduce attrition
    • working more with sub-specialties
    • advocating for more and varied HR – to reach a target of 1 x practitioner for 10,000 people
    • advocating for increased salary and allowance
    • looking after well-being through support and counselling (physical and mental health)
    • increasing support for course development, CPD and training
  • Improve reporting, data collection and health information systems
  • Work with the corporate sector to increase funding and awareness opportunities – using community/social development programmes as our entry point.

The most pertinent advice for the afternoon came from Audrey Aumua in her guise as the sub-regional Public Health Assembly, Director General: “advocacy is difficult”. In her closing comments she reminded delegates that quite often they will only have a short window to get their point across. “Be succinct and sharp,” she recommended. “When we advocate we need to explain 1) the problem; 2) how we’re going to fix it. And we have 30 seconds before the ministers goes!”

IAPB looks forward to working with PacEYES and our members to take the advocacy conversation forward. There’s much to be done in the Pacific – but together we can do it!

(with special thanks to sub-regional Public Health Assembly rapporteurs Quenelda Clegg and Peter Raynes)