There are a number of different organisations working with Pacific Island Countries and Territories to help improve health information systems (and health outcomes) in the region. Included on this page are details for: the HIS Hub; WHO; SPC; UNFPA; PIHOA; and HMN.
University of Queensland Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub (HIS Hub)
To help achieve better progress toward key health sector outcomes, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to prepare for substantial scaling-up in the health sector, in 2008 the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) established four new global Health Knowledge Hubs. These Hubs were initiated to provide improved health knowledge and expertise to inform policy dialogue at national, regional and international levels and to provide guidance to AusAID on how to ensure better health outcomes from its bi-lateral aid programs.
The School of Population Health at the University of Queensland (UQ) was selected to establish a Health Information Systems (HIS) Knowledge Hub. The overall aim of the HIS Knowledge Hub is to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of Australia’s engagement in the health sector in the Asia Pacific region through expanded expertise and an expanded knowledge base that is of practical value and used by stakeholders in development. The Hub will challenge existing assumptions about best practice in HIS development and will add to the body of knowledge in the area of HIS through targeted operational research within the region.
This overall aim will be accomplished through the following four key guiding objectives:
- To increase the critical, conceptual and strategic analysis of key HIS issues relevant to the Asia Pacific region that can be used to inform policy thinking and practical application at the national, regional and international levels
- To expand convening powers and engagement (e.g. communication, networks and partnerships) between the Hubs, Australian institutions and Asia-Pacific national, regional and international researchers, development partners and educational institutes;
- To effectively disseminate relevant and useful HIS knowledge resources which aim to influence policy thinking at national, regional and international levels
- To expand the HIS capacity of Australian institutions and professionals and through them to Asia Pacific institutions and professionals to participate effectively in evidence informed policy making.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO)
The Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO), located in Manila, Philippines, represents the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Asia and the Pacific. It acts as the health conscience of the Region; operating semi-autonomously with its own regional budget. The Division for Pacific Technical Support (DPS) operates from Suva, Fiji to meet the specific health needs of Pacific Island Countries and Territories. WPRO and DPS coordinate technical support to address specific priorities in the Pacific, including HIS strengthening.
The role of WPRO is to act as a catalyst and advocate for action at all levels, from local to global, on health issues of public concern. Working together with a broad spectrum of partners from all sectors of society, WPRO is involved in a host of closely related public health activities, including research, data-banking, evaluation, awareness raising and resource mobilization. Their purpose is to lead the regional response to public health issues on all fronts – medical, technical, socio-economic, cultural, legal and political – towards the achievement of WHO’s global health mission.
WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. WHO’s mission is to support all countries and peoples in their quest to achieve the highest attainable level of health, defined in the WHO Constitution as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
WPRO provides technical support to countries to strengthen health policies, plans, and systems, including enhancing HIS to improve the quality, completeness, and timeliness of information for decision-making. Recent WPRO activities in HIS support to countries in Asia and the Pacific are summarized in Chapter 17 of the 2011 Regional Director’s Report. Global policies, norms, standards, guidelines, tools, and technqiues for improving HIS developed by or in collaboration with WHO Headquarters are helping countries in low resource settings maximize health information effectively for better health outcomes. WPRO assists countries with utilizing appropriate and best available resources for cost-effective HIS planning, design, development, implementation, operations, and maintenance. Particular emphasis is being given to country ownership and leadership strategies through a multi-sectoral approach to health information quality and use. WPRO advises countries on identifying and using data and information and communications technology (ICT) standards to promote interoperability within the HIS and addressing the full range of staffing requirements and training needs to develop and sustain a fully functional HIS and evidence-based decision-making at all levels of the health system.
Sescretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is an international organisation that provides technical and policy advice and assistance, training and research services to its Pacific Island members. SPC works in a wide range of sectors with the aim of achieving three development outcomes sustainable economic development, sustainable natural resource management and development, and sustainable human and social development.
SPC’s vision for the region is a secure and prosperous Pacific Community, whose people are educated and healthy and manage their resources in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable way. Their mission is to help Pacific Island people position themselves effectively to respond to the challenges they face and make informed decisions about their future and the future they wish to leave for the generations that follow. SPC has six technical divisions, a statistical programme, a strategic engagement and planning facility, and a directorate of operations and management:
- The Education, Training and Human Development Division includes the Secretariat of the Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA) as well as programmes addressing vocational and community education and training, and human development in the areas of human rights, gender equality, culture and youth
- The Public Health Division assists members in developing healthier Pacific Island communities by providing assistance in public health surveillance, prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases and promotion of adolescent reproductive health
- The Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division assists members to sustainably develop and manage their coastal, aquaculture and oceanic (tuna) fisheries by providing technical advice, assistance and training; conducting research and monitoring; and disseminating information
- The Land Resources Division provides advice, expertise, technical support and training to members on all aspects of agriculture and forestry. Its objectives are: improved food and nutritional security, integrated and sustainable agricultural and forestry resource management and development, and improved and increased trade in agriculture and forestry products
- The Economic Development Division provides advice, technical assistance and regional coordination on the key drivers of economic growths transport, energy and information and communication technology (ICT). An infrastructure programme will be implemented when funding becomes available
- The Applied Geoscience and Technology (SOPAC) Division incorporates the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission, which transferred its core functions to SPC in January 2011. These functions include work in the areas of water and sanitation, disaster management, seabed resources, maritime boundary delimitation and monitoring of ocean processes
- The Strategic Engagement, Policy and Planning Facility assists members with the design of national development strategies; prepares sectoral analyses to inform decision-making at national level; provides policy and planning support to SPC’s technical programmes; and supports SPC’s role in regional engagement in climate change and food security issues
- The Statistics for Development Programme is a stand-alone programme that assists national statistics and planning offices to improve the availability, quality, analysis and utilisation of social and economic data. More information is available at www.spc.int/sdp
United Nations Population Fund Asia and Pacific Regional Office (APRO)
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.
UNFPA’s Asia and the Pacific Regional Office (APRO) was established in July 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, and became fully staffed and operational in early 2009 to provide a key link between UNFPA’s organization-wide vision, strategies, policies and analyses, on one hand, and the needs of the region and programme countries therein, on the other.
APRO provides leadership in positioning the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) at the forefront of poverty reduction and development strategies, policies, and debates throughout the region.
It coordinates, oversees, supports and monitors the work of UNFPA’s 23 country offices in Asia and the Pacific, as well as Sub-Regional Offices in Suva and Kathmandu, aiming to strengthen the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) according to national priorities.
The Regional Office also facilitates advocacy and policy dialogue to generate the political will and financial resources needed to achieve the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action, which emphasizes the integral links between population and development, focusing on meeting the needs of individual women, men and young people. The ICPD agenda underpins UNFP’s work globally, and APRO is responsible for developing and maintaining strategic partnerships and regional networks to ensure broad ownership of the agenda in the region. This includes facilitating the exchange of knowledge and working to improve the quality of result-based management.
Efforts to improve aid effectiveness and coherence within the UN system are essential to realizing the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action. In its role as regional head office, APRO is actively engaged in supporting these reforms. APRO is comprised of teams of technical, programme, communications, security and operations staff rendering country offices with integrated support, and ultimately aiming to strengthen national and regional capacities.
Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA)
The Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) provides a regional voice for the six United States Associated Pacific Islands (USAPI), in their development of sustainable and effective health systems. It is a cross-borders forum for developing solutions, locating resources, building local capacity, adopting policy, and improving communications with funding sources, policy makers and PIHOA members. The mission of PIHOA is to provide a unifying voice and credible authority on health issues of regional significance. PIHOA works to strengthen cross-cutting public health infrastructure in the USAPI, with priority initiatives that address health workforce development, quality assurance, health data systems, public health planning, and public health laboratories.
Health Metrics Network (HMN)
Established in 2005, the Health Metrics Network (HMN) is the first global partnership dedicated to strengthening national health information systems. HMN operates as a network of global, regional and country partners. As a country-owned and partner-driven platform, it assesses health information systems and sustainably improves them, through the use of the HMN Framework. Reliable, complete and timely information is essential for public health decision-making and action, including policy making, planning, programming and monitoring. However, such information is rarely available in low-income countries. Sound data are also needed to ensure accountability for resources and to meet global objectives such as the Millennium Development Goals.
HMN mobilizes partners to strengthen health information systems and to increase the availability of information for decisions to improve health outcomes in countries.