The U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) consist of three U. S. Flag Territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, along with three Freely Associate States:
the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau, and Federated States of Micronesia.
USAPI are populated by more than 500,000 people, its jurisdictions span millions of square miles of ocean and cross five Pacific Time zones.The USAPI face a high incidence of communicable diseases along with the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), ranking among the world’s highest prevalence of obesity and other related NCDs.
U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands are also burdened by environmental disasters in far excess of the United States.
Their health systems are hindered from effectively addressing the growing burden of non-communicable and infectious diseases, high infant mortality, and health threats resulting from climate change.Public health challenges in this region are exacerbated by widely dispersed populations, limited resources, and fragmented health systems (see Preventing Chronic Disease, 2014, 11, 130344)., A former District Health Officer for the Federated States of Micronesia noted their many challenges include lack of fully trained health workers, unreliable systems (i.e., power grids, government finances, transportation infrastructure), and the organizational complexity and interdependency of these systems account for poor public health delivery ( International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2010, 22).
A recent comprehensive assessment of the status of non-communicable diseases across 10 Pacific Island nations demonstrated significant strains on public health systems to deliver services, effect policies, and implement programs (see the Hawaii J Med Public Health, 2013, 72(5;1).
Some of the top priorities from the assessment included develop and implement national health plans with viable resources and technical assistance; create national data systems/registries and provision of data training for personnel; improved collaboration with community partners to provide prevention services in communities; implement strategies that minimize fragmentation of healthcare and ensure continuity of care; and provide continuing education courses for public health professionals such as physicians, nurses and other health professionals.CDC announces supplemental funding for the awardee initially funded under the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) CDC-RFA-OT16-1601:
Strengthening the Public Health System in the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands July 1, 201 6. This supplemental FOA permits the eligible awardee to apply for a new project plan that supports activities to:
1) provide on-site and remote technical assistance for outbreaks in the USAPIs to strengthen local vector control and prevention systems, capabilities, and responses; 2) gather lessons learned from respective stakeholders; 3) hold workgroup sessions to conduct After Action Reports and implement Improvement Plans; and 4) develop tools, resources, and/or trainings that address gaps and challenges identified in Improvement Plans.
The FOA Supplement provides an opportunity to strengthen the response to prevention and control of infectious diseases, such as the Zika virus, through providing technical assistance to public health departments and/or mobilizing the larger community leadership.This FOA defines capacity building as the development and strengthening of human and organizational resources and systems.
It involves enhancing the ability to perform functions, solve problems, and achieve objectives at the individual, institutional and societal levels.
Capacity building strategies can include workforce development to enhance knowledge, skills, competencies, and create resources; organizational development to enhance management structures, processes and procedures within and between organizations and different sectors (public, private & community); and partnership development to build relationships to effectively address community needs, manage resources, and communicate with the public.
Strategic investments in capacity building for the USAPI are expected to generate an increase in the quality, quantity, efficiency, effectiveness and prevention capacity of public health services and related outcomes, thus ultimately improving population health.