World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO is an institution of the United Nations created on 7 April 1948 to help all the countries and peoples attain the best level of health possible. To achieve this, the WHO is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
It focuses on actions in several areas:
- fighting against communicable diseases
- health security and emergency situations
- healthy communities and peoples
- developing the health sector
Actions in the Pacific:
In addition to its headquarters located in Geneva, the WHO has several regional offices located in 6 different regions. These specific geographical locations aim at allowing a better understanding of the issues in certain regions. For instance, the Regional Office for the Western Pacific located in Manila in the Philippines represents WHO in the Asia-Pacific region and completes and reinforces the response systems implemented by the general office. Another office involved in the Pacific region is the WHO Representative Office in the South Pacific, located in Suva, Fiji, and which operates under the aegis of the Western Pacific Regional Office.
In collaboration with a large panel of partners from all the areas in the community, the WHO in the Western Pacific is involved in a number of public health activities closely inter-related, such as research, data collection, evaluation, awareness-raising and mobilising of resources. Its goal is to lead the regional response to public health issues on all fronts- medical, technical, socio-economic, cultural, legal and political- towards achieving the global health mission of the WHO.
We can mention for instance the Western Pacific Region Index Medicus (WPRIM), a project managed by the Western Pacific Regional Office in collaboration with several institutions of the member states from the region. This index consists in a selective grouping of medical and health journals which exist in the Western Pacific region. Its access to internet will facilitate access to a database of full texts so as to offer several countries the possibility to access the region’s medical literature.
More recently, we can underline the participation of the Pacific regional offices in fighting Ebola, although the risk of an infection in the Western Pacific region remains low. In order to assess the preparedness of a member State to a potential epidemic, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office investigated on the countries’ level of preparedness thanks to a simulation exercise organised in October 2014.
In New Caledonia:
In February 2012, WHO Regional Director Dr. SHIN YOUNG-SOO had stopped in New Caledonia to visit the health premises and discuss about the regional health policies with those in charge of these issues. The President of the New Caledonian Government, Mr. Harold Martin, had expressed his desire to see its status evolve within the French representation within the WHO, towards a status “similar to that of Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within China”.
In April 2014, a WHO regional delegate, Jane Wallace, came to take stock of the smoking situation in New Caledonia (47 % of New Caledonians are smokers):“We need to increase taxes, reduce demand, reduce supply, prohibit sales to minors, prohibit cigarettes in public places, communicate extensively on this topic, support smokers during smoking cessation and most of all, enforcing /current/existing laws.”