Prominent Niuean seeking senior WHO post

The Director General of teh SPC, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga. Picture: SPC

NOUMEA – A prominent Niuean New Zealander believes he can make a difference if he gets to head the World Health Organisation’s Western Pacific region.

Colin Tukuitonga, a medical doctor who has previously working at the WHO, has also held senior government posts in New Zealand and is currently director general of the Pacific Community.

He was nominated for the WHO post by New Zealand and a number of Pacific Island nations.

The region encompasses much of Asia as well as the island nations and Dr Tukuitonga said there were a number of pressing health issues.

“Like diabetes and heart disease which require an even more concentrated effort and I think professionally from me, potentially the most rewarding opportunity to make a contribution beyond the Pacific region alone and try to effect change in the Asian members of the WP region,” he said.

Dr Tukuitonga said the nomination process would take some weeks.

Meanwhile, Tonga’s Health Minister says a Pacific voice regarding the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will be heard at a global level over the next few weeks.

In March, Saia Piukala was appointed to the World Health Organisation’s Independent Global Commission on NCDs.

Dr Piukala said the commission was compiling a report which would be presented to the WHO for discussion shortly before being released next month.

He said there would be four main areas of concern.

“Number one; prioritisation and to identify and implement a small set of priorities within the overall NCD and mental health agenda; increase funding for action against NCDs; strengthen accountability for action on NCDs and increase engagement with the private sectors.”

Dr Saia Piukala said the report would be the basis for discussion at the 3rd High Level United Nations meeting on NCDs in September.