“I DO believe that if there is a problem there are bound to be solutions, as long as people recognise the ties that they have with one another as a world community.”
This is the opinion of Dr Yvan Souares, manager and medical epidemiologist of the Secretariat of the South Pacific’s (SPC) Health Protection Programme.
Dr Souares believes humans are “made for living in societies. Therefore we need to organise our societies, we need to pre-empt some problems, and propose some solutions. In doing so, we are losing a few battles, but we are also winning some others, and so I am always optimistic.”
The battles he refers to are those being fought in South Pacific countries against Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory disease — diseases that, in September last year, Pacific Island Forum Leaders called a “human, social and economic crisis.”
Later that same month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a declaration that included measures to prevent and control NCDs, which contribute to 36 million of the world’s 57 million deaths each year.
“We start by being involved in the surveillance of the problem with partners, such as the Pacific Islands Health Officers Association and WHO, trying to find out innovative ways of assessing the depth and the dynamics of the problem,” Dr Souares said.
“This helps us to better inform and assist the member country with drafting an action plan, for example, and if requested, we could also help in monitoring the impact.”
Dr Souares said as well as partnering with other SPC Divisions where practical, the Public Health Division also partners with WHO.