U.S. Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, and Tuvalu -- U.S. Ambassador Joseph Cella and Fiji Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Dr. James Fong convened U.S. and Fijian government health officials and health, education and business sector leaders for a transparent and candid dialogue on Dec, 4, 2020, how the United States could support efforts to strengthen health systems in the Indo-Pacific. The conversation generated ideas and inspiration for new ways that public and private actors in the United States, Fiji, and other Indo-Pacific countries can work together to overcome health challenges.
Ambassador Cella said, “The Indo-Pacific was already juggling multiple health-related issues before the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are many talented and dedicated people and institutions working to build strong health systems in Fiji and the Indo-Pacific. Finding the best solutions to the region’s health challenges requires creativity, innovation, and collaboration between governments, non-government organizations, international health agencies, the private sector, charitable foundations, and professional societies. Today’s conversation was a very important first step. Ideas and inspiration were generated for new and creative ways we can work together to overcome health challenges. I look forward to having the next conversation in the near future, as we build bridges for health in the Indo-Pacific.”
Following opening remarks by Ambassador Cella and Permanent Secretary James Fong, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan highlighted the dedication of the U.S. Government in enhancing the health and well-being of the American people – including our Indo-Pacific populations – and how we seek to build bridges with our Indo-Pacific partners to strengthen health outcomes across the region. University of Michigan Health System leaders Dr. Joseph, Kolars and Dr. William Chavey, and Dr. Paul Clyde, of the University of Michigan’s William Davidson Institute, shared their experiences in harnessing medical education and expertise and technology such as tele-medicine to combat health care challenges like non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and provide care in remote, rural areas. Participants further reflected on the challenges and opportunities for improving health in Fiji and the Indo-Pacific.