PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From October 24th to 28th, 2022, the Honorable Marcus H. Samo, Secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs, attended the 73rd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines. The Committee meets every year to formulate policies, provide oversight for regional programs, hear and respond to progress reports, and consider, revise, and endorse new initiatives.
The Regional Committee Meeting of the WHO for the Western Pacific includes the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) amongst its 37 Member States (including Associate Members). The meeting’s products included strategic health plans and resolutions that guide the work of the WHO’s Regional and Country offices for the coming year.
When contributing to the development of resolutions pertaining to mental healthcare; cervical cancer; non-communicable disease prevention and control; primary healthcare; and reaching the unreached, the FSM made a number of key interventions, among these noting the importance of taking an approach to health solutions that recognize “existing cultural strengths” found within the Blue Pacific Continent and each country within it, as well as considering the way in which health intersects with disability, gender, and Climate Change-related natural disasters.
In his statement to the Committee, Secretary Samo said that “Impacts of gender inequality are included as a risk factor adversely affecting the mental health of women and men within our communities. A significant and preventable cause of death, and disability, in the Pacific is violence and injury caused by gender-based violence. It is therefore recommended that non-communicable disease interventions incorporate and support ending violence against women and girls.”
The FSM has also advocated for the importance of promoting equity in health programming and decision-making. In this regard, Secretary Samo said “We believe that communication strategies be developed with equity in mind, considering particular needs and accessibility considerations as they relate to, for example, the intersection between health, gender, disability and the experiences of children.”
Secretary Samo concluded his remarks by describing that, with dedication and cooperation amongst local health workers, political leadership, non-government organizations, and youth groups, among others, that the FSM “successfully contained the community spread of COVID-19 when it reached our shores.”
The FSM was represented at the 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the Western Pacific by Secretary Samo, Acting Assistant Secretary Stuard Penias, and Chief Operating Officer Scott Mori.