Kiribati welcomes support to make health services more resilient

The Government of Kiribati has welcomed the Commonwealth’s support as it works to strengthen its health system.

At a meeting of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Health (CACH), the Minister of Health and Medical Services cited the positive difference financial and technical assistance had made.

The Committee, made up of senior government officials from Ministries of Health, regional bodies and civil society from across the Commonwealth, was meeting for the first time in its history in the Pacific.

In his welcome remarks, minister Tauanei Marea said, “I wish to thank you all for making it here and to be able to note and provide prodigious assistance to deliver better health systems that may continuously provide better health outcomes for the Commonwealth.

“Our people and Government do recognise the need to improve and support our existing health services as one way to become resilient, and around US$20m has been allocated for assistance to provide and sustain our health systems.”

The minister added, “I wish to acknowledge the ongoing financial and in-kind assistance from our development partners and NGOs who have managed to provide ongoing assistance in this line of duty.”

CACH, which this year is being chaired by Kiribati, meets at least twice a year to plan for the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting, advise on matters of public health concern and interest, as well as offer guidance and oversight of Commonwealth Secretariat’s health programme, on behalf of the ministers.

Dr Mbololwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, Adviser in the Secretariat’s Health Section, said, “I am grateful to the Government of Kiribati for hosting such a positive and productive meeting. I am also delighted that the work of the committee and the Commonwealth itself has been enriched by the Government’s support and this opportunity to see first-hand, the impact of climate change on the country’s health systems. We also look forward to working with colleagues from other sections to support Kiribati to strengthen its health system and improve the health outcomes of its people.”

She added, “The ideas discussed will help to inform next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and will be developed further ahead of the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in Geneva in May.”

In addition to the Minister of Health and Medical Services, members of the committee were welcomed by Vice-President Kourabi Nenem and Secretary to the Cabinet Tessie Lambourne.

During the course of the visit, CACH members also participated in Kiribati’s Health Sector Coordinating Committee meeting, which brought together development partners and ministry officials from different departments. The Secretariat was invited to contribute to and was welcomed as one of Kiribati’s development partners. Attendees went on to assess progress, challenges and gaps, and before identifying solutions and ways to address the country’s health priorities.