The World Health Organisation has acknowledged the significance of Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science’s ostgraduate programmes in Non-Communicable Diseases which allows people from the Pacific to learn academically on how to improve the management of NCDs.

WHO Sub-regional office in Fiji, Team Coordinator – Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Lifecourse, Dr Wendy Snowdon, said: “We have a phenomenal NCDs challenge to deal with in the Pacific, and sadly we are number one in the risk factors, so we are still producing a large number of people who need to be managed”.

“This places a substantial burden on our health care services, and the reality is that most of the health care systems in Pacific Island Countries are challenged with the burden they are facing with NCDs,” Dr Snowdon said during the Package of Essential NCD Interventions (PEN) in Primary Care Settings Workshop currently underway at CMNHS.

“We are very happy with FNU, who have started its Postgraduate courses in NCDs allowing people to undertake further study in this field and the fact that they have included a PEN Unit in its course is quite significant.”

She added it was a pleasure for WHO to be partnering with the College once again in conducting such workshops.

CMNHS Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, Dr Timaima Tuiketei, said: “Our programmes are the University’s academic response to the NCD crisis in the region that was declared by the 22 Ministers of Health in the Pacific meeting”.

She commented that the WHO PEN workshop was an innovative and action-oriented answer to address the rising incidence of NCDs.

“The PEN model defines a minimum set of essential NCD interventions that can be delivered at primary care settings as a core component of primary health services.”

“The package of PEN Interventions is designed to make the management and control of NCDs more available and accessible. When well planned, PEN interventions can prompt actions to strengthen the health system to deliver better health services,” Dr Tuiketei highlighted.

WHO introduced PEN Interventions in the Pacific region in 2012, and several countries have adapted the PEN model to deliver a minimum standard for managing common NCDs.
The main NCDs include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer.

Factors that support integration include policy engagement for PEN implementation, competent provider skills, availability of PEN medicines and supplies, functional referral systems, and ongoing monitoring and supervision to support PEN implementation. 

At the College, the School of Public Health and Primary Care (SPHPC) offers the PEN model as a core course in its Postgraduate Diploma in NCDs, delivered over two semesters.
Upon successful completion of the Postgraduate Diploma programme, candidates may proceed to the Master in NCD programme.

Acting Head of SPHPC, Dr Nemani Seru, said the postgraduate training programme in NCDs represented FNU’s institutional response to addressing the NCD crisis in the Pacific.
“CMNHS is proud to be part of this collaboration and cooperation that we have with WHO, which is a key player and stakeholder in the region in relation to their work in NCDs,” Dr Seru added.

A total of 18 participants are part of the four-day workshop which concludes on Friday, 04 October.

Dr Myra Adelbai-Fraser, from Belau National Hospital in Palau, who is among the participants, said she hoped to learn more about implementing the PEN model in her country.

“It is wonderful to be part of this workshop and I hope to build more collaborations and get more answers to the burdens we are facing back home,” Dr Adelbai-Fraser said.

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