“A well trained Pacific Island public health workforce is a key element to a well-prepared and resilient Pacific Island community.”
Since 2007, the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) has been formally committed to working with USAPI institutions of higher learning to develop formal learning programs for the region’s PH workforce many of whom have no formal training in Public Health (PH). Working with the HRSA-funded Palau Area Health Education Center (AHEC), the following has been accomplished with both HRSA and CDC resources:
- In 2009, an Associate of Science Degree in Public Health (ASDPH) was accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Junior and Community Colleges (ACCJC) / Western Association of Schools and Colleges at COM-FSM and classes commenced in August 2009;
- From 2012-2013, PIHOA became part of the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health HRSA-funded PHTC Grant (CALPAC) which funded public health training of the current public health workforce in Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and American Samoa;
- In November 2012, the ASDPH Program at Palau Community College was accredited by the ACCJC and full time classes began in August 2013; and
- In November 2014, a Certificate in Public Health was formally accredited at the College of the Marshall Islands by the ACCJC.
Formal accreditation of undergraduate PH programs is crucial as accreditation triggers the eligibility to use US federal PELL grants to fund local PH education. The funding support through the Western Region PHTC will strengthen PIHOAs’ efforts to establish a regional Public Health Training Network within the USAPIs to skill-up the current PH workforce, train the next generation of PH workers, and improve overall PH literacy among isolated communities of the USAPIs. Increased PH literacy among island communities not only strengthens community resilience to communicable and non-communicable diseases, but also prepares vulnerable island populations for the adverse risks of climate change. A well-trained Pacific Island PH workforce is a key element to a well prepared and resilient Pacific Island community.
Pacific Basin Public Health Training Center
In 2014, PIHOA was again invited to join a successful HRSA-funded Public Health Training Center application, this time by the University of Arizona School of Public Health competing for the Region IX PHTC application. Currently, PIHOA’s work as the Pacific Basin PHTC will continue to strengthen Pacific regional PH workforce by recruiting an expert faculty member from the Fiji National University (FNU) School of Public Health, part of the FNU College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, to be placed at the Public Health Department of the National Campus of the College of Micronesia – Federated States of Micronesia (COM-FSM) in Pohnpei State, FSM.
The FNU PH Specialist will be responsible to:
With counterparts at the COM-FSM PH Department translate into a distance learning (DL) format the current COM-FSM PH curriculum and deliver at least one DL long course per semester to PH workers in Chuuk, Kosrae, and Yap States starting in Year 2 of the four-year grant;
Provide faculty development for COM-FSM PH Department colleagues;
Work with local counterparts at the COM-FSM PH Department in the articulation process of comparing COM-FSM’s Associate of Sciences Degree in Public Health (ASDPH) curriculum with that of the FNU’s Bachelors in Public Health so that ASDPH graduates at COM-FSM may be eligible to matriculate in upper-level FNU Bachelors of Public Health courses.
With the FNU School of Public Health develop career ladder opportunities for COM-FSM ASDPH graduates to a Bachelors in Public Health and beyond.
- Work with the Pacific Basin PHTC and faculty at the COM-FSM Public Health Department to provide continuing professional development (CPD) to the current PH workforce in the four states of the FSM through short and long courses;
The FNU faculty expert will be orientated and supported by PIHOA’s Pacific Basin PHTC Project Director, Dr. Gregory Dever. International travel will be conducted to/from Fiji and Pohnpei, and between the FSM states of Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, and Chuuk, for delivery and monitoring of both short and long course delivery.