The Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) will receive increased visibility and recognition by national and international authorities for its work on NCDs after the College’s Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (C-POND) was designated as a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and Management.

While officiating the designation, Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, said: “today we witness the recognition of the work of a centre that has been a strong ally for the Ministry of Health helping to implement our mandated work and achieve its current goals”.

“This is a milestone for all Fijians, the Pacific region and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences in its research cluster at the Fiji National University. We should all be proud that a research centre at our own University has been designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre.”

“My Ministry is happy to see that C-POND will be the first in Fiji and the Pacific region to be given this designation.”

“I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Dean, the C-POND WHO CC Directors, the C-POND Reference Group, the staff of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, their partnering Agencies and Institutions, the Vice-Chancellor and staff of the Fiji National University for their hard work which has resulted in this recognition.”

CMNHS Dean, Dr William May, said C-POND will be the first institution in the Pacific Islands Countries to receive WHO Collaborating Centre status, this was a major achievement for the College.

“The collaboration brings benefits to both parties. WHO gains access to top institutions worldwide and the institutional capacity to support its work while C-POND will gain greater attention from the public and academic institutions for the health issues they work on.”

“There will also be opportunities to mobilise additional and sometimes important resources from funding partners and to collaborate with other WHO Collaborating Centres,” Dr May highlighted.

Dr Wendy Snowdon, Team Coordinator at the WHO’s Division of Pacific Technical Support, said the World Health Organisation awarded the first WHO Collaborating Centre status more than 60 years ago, and there were now over 800 WHO collaborating centres in over 80 Member States.

“WHO Collaborating Centres work on a diverse range of subjects, across all of WHO’s technical programmes.”

“Their activities include, for example, carrying out research for WHO, assisting in the development of a WHO guideline, gathering and analysing data for a WHO report, dissemination of information, providing a training course by request of WHO, or provision of technical advice to WHO,” she said.

According to Dr Snowdon, after extensive review and assessment, the WHO designated the C-POND as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and Management, to:

  • assist the WHO in supporting the prevention and management of NCDs,
  • assist the WHO in supporting countries in the Pacific to develop policies on healthy diets and physical activity; and
  • to conduct research on unhealthy diets and physical inactivity to support the implementation of evidence-based policies in line with WHO recommendations.

“Unfortunately the Pacific has some of the highest rates of NCDs in the world and efforts to address this need intensifying, including for both prevention and management.  The focus of this new WHO CC on obesity and Non Communicable Diseases is therefore particularly relevant and critical for the Pacific Islands.”

“Here in the Division of Pacific Technical Support, we are also particularly pleased to acknowledge the C-POND as the first WHO Collaborating Centre in the Pacific Islands (and) we look forward to ongoing collaboration with this new WHO CC on this very important topic,” Dr Snowdon said.

In congratulating the College for this achievement, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Dr Mohini Singh, said for research at FNU, this collaboration strengthens and expands partnership with WHO enhancing opportunities for addressing issues related to the prevention of obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases in Fiji and the region.

“I am pleased with and welcome this collaboration with WHO (and) it gives our researchers at CMNHS recognition and provides us with a more progressive environment for taking on projects that will directly impact our society.”

 

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