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Pacific Health Champions gather in Dunedin for Symposium

Tuesday 4 December 2018 11:45am

Pacific-health-symposium-image
Participants at the Pacific International Health Symposium came together in Dunedin last week to strengthen partnerships for better Pacific health outcomes. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Delegates from across the Pacific region travelled to Dunedin last week for a two-day Pacific International Health Symposium hosted by the University of Otago.

The overarching theme of the event was “Strengthening Partnerships for Pacific Health” with the aim of enhancing networks, fostering collaboration and building capacity in the areas of Pacific health education, service and research, locally and across the region.

"The University of Otago is seen as a good friend and a valued partner for Pacific countries and the tertiary institutions in the Pacific."

The symposium was organised by Va’a o Tautai, the Pacific arm of the Division of Health Sciences, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the US Embassy New Zealand to fund Pacific regional participation.

Senior leaders in health and education from the Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, joined Otago staff and students, and others engaged in the Pacific health space, at the symposium. These included the Chair of the Pacific region Heads of Health Dr Aumea Herman, the Director of SPC (The Pacific Community in Noumea) Dr Colin Tukuitonga, and other Directors and CEOs of Health.

Health Sciences Divisional Associate Dean (Pacific), Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga says the University is involved in teaching, service and research activities in the Pacific region and the symposium also had benefits for Pacific students, with some presenting their work as emerging researchers.

“Although Otago is the furthest south of the main tertiary institutions in Australasia, it certainly punches above its weight in terms of its contribution and recognition in the Pacific region. The University of Otago is seen as a good friend and a valued partner for Pacific countries and the tertiary institutions in the Pacific.”