Report of the Indigenous Working Group of the World Federation of PHAs 2018 - 2019

12 Dec 2019 12:45 PM | Anonymous


Report by Governing Council Representative to Asia Pacific, Adrian Te Patu (PHANZ) World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA)

The Institute of Global Health, reception of the World Health Assembly (WHA)

The Swiss Permanent Mission of Geneva invited the WFPHA governing council, including the Indigenous Working Group, to join the 194 member country delegations to the WHA opening reception. This high level soirée was a perfect opportunity to promote the WFPHA, indigenous public health and the PHANZ. I was able to spend time with Pacific Forum delegates to discuss public health issues unique to our region, and for those who live in Aotearoa. It was particularly rewarding to meet the delegation from Tuvalu who was to host the Pacific Forum in August. Our host Switzerland promoted various global health-based search initiatives from academic and research partners that base themselves in Geneva. This special evening was co-hosted by the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WFPHA International Vaccination & Capacity Workshop 2019

It was my privilege to offer an indigenous lens as a member of an international panel of the International Vaccination & Capacity Workshop hosted on May 22nd at the University of Geneva. This was enormously successful, registering over 300 public health professionals, doctors, diplomats, professors and students from across the globe. This was in addition to over 25,000 live-stream engagements. The workshop was full of robust and stimulating discussions between the audience (both in person and online) and our 20 high-level eloquent speakers from various health sectors around the world. These interactions offered a strong interdisciplinary insight into the challenges and potential solutions around vaccinations and capacity. Speakers discussed strategies and good practices to increase primary prevention through increased capacity (from human to infrastructure to sustainable investments and beyond) applied to the vaccination context. From the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to Strep A vaccination strategy research to arresting rheumatic heart disease in south & west Auckland, the full day workshop was a truly valuable global discussion.

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD s) Workshop - Indigenous Working Group (IWG) of WFPHA

I was able to co-host and speak at this workshop which began by acknowledging that NCDs contribute to 70% of deaths globally. Indigenous people, however, often carry a higher burden of disease. Australian Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care opened the workshop via video. Minister Wyatt had previously funded the IWG and expressed his continued support for the IWG and the work we are undertaking. The diverse range of speakers included Professor Laetitia Rispel from South Africa, President of the WFPHA; Mr. Patrick Mwesigye, founder of the Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum; Summer May Finlay, Co-Vice Chair of the IWG, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Vice President of the Public Health Association of Australia and me. The topics included the significant burden of disease, Indigenous-led solutions, the impact of racism and the need for Indigenous data collection. The workshop called for specific Indigenous reporting under the World Health Organization’s Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Sustainable Development Agenda includes 17 goals and states that “no one will be left behind”.

Governing Council (GC) AGM and WFPHA General Assembly

The three functional meeting requirements for GC members in attendance at Geneva this year included the AGM which focused on finance, the Rome Congress and new appointments to the GC. The General Assembly allowed each member nation and working group to offer a summary of the year. This year a Skills Building Seminar on Governance specially dedicated to navigating the international political minefield was included.

16th World Congress on Public Health Rome 2020 - International Congress Council (ICC)

In a very unusual move, three significant public health associations have combined to stage this event in Rome next year. They are the WFPHA, the Italian Society of Hygiene, Preventive Medicine and Public Health (Sltl) and the European Public Health Association (EUPHA). I am a WFPHA member of the organising committee or ICC which is chaired by Prof Martin McKee, CBE, Professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We are expecting four to five thousand attendees.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War - Side event

It was my privilege to join a team of health professionals to present and discuss the role of health workers in reducing the likelihood of nuclear war. I was asked by the US delegate to the WFPHA to give a NZ and Pacific lens to this discussion.

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Letter to the Listener 28 July 2017 in response to Fever Pitch (Listener 21 July 2017)

Catherine Woulfe’s thorough investigation of rheumatic fever brings to the surface a range of important questions not only about this cruel disease, but also wider issues about health policy. The Government’s bold initiative to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever as one of its 'Better Public Service' targets in 2012 certainly raised awareness of rheumatic fever for the general public as well as communities and families directly affected. But even when medical science and the public have a clearer understanding of the immediate causes of rheumatic fever, interventions like the $65m ‘sore throats matter’ still won’t stop the epidemic. 

Ramona Tiatia’s blunt description of the experience of affected families not only painted a picture of the impact on affected families and communities, it also highlighted the invidious choices our health funders face.  How much should we prioritise health spending between response to the urgent need of young people whose lives and potential can be devastated by the disease versus the expense of addressing the economic and social factors that underlie the reasons we have this epidemic at all?   

As several of the clinicians interviewed pointed out, it’s only when the poverty and over-crowded housing issues are addressed that we will make a real difference.

Rheumatic fever illustrates the contradictions in our health system identified in the recent American Commonwealth Fund report. Of the 11 countries the Fund monitors, the work our health professionals do is ranked among the highest. But our overall performance as a health system falls to the middle ranking because of our poor performance on access and equity. The Fund also notes that our per capita expenditure is among the cheapest. 

Failure to invest in real prevention - that is, poverty, housing, good nutrition etc. - will continue to drive conditions like rheumatic fever, whether the immediate cause is strep throat or skin sores, until we invest upstream.

Why not spend more on these conditions - the economic and social determinants of health? 

We all pay in the long run - the young people whose misery we tolerate and whose potential remains unfulfilled, the families whose sacrifices are unrewarded, and the taxpayer who picks up the tab.

Ngā mihi,
Warren Lindberg

CE Public Health Association of New Zealand

                                            

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