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‘Halo olgeta!’ – Health conference for regional collaboration in Vanuatu

March 21, 2016

Since 2008, St Vincent’s Pacific Health Fund aims to honor the work of well-known emergency leader, Dr Andrew Dent.  Andrew, as a tireless advocate for the equitable ‘whole-of-health’ treatment of all patients, no matter what their station in life or their location on the planet, established the Fund to promote links between St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne and our regional neighbours; for individual health workers and for institutions.

The Pacific Health Fund was delighted to collaborate with doctors and nurses from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands who joined Australian and New Zealand health professionals for a targeted mental health Pasifika Study Group.  This project facilitated by the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Faculty Child and Adolescent Psychaitry and supported the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), and the Vanuatu Dental and Medical Association.  The Pasifika Study Group was an initiative to strengthen Pacific health workforce capacity and capability, within an challenging environment.  This includes the reality that international study opportunities can often mean short and long term losses to the Pacific communities.

Since the 2015 devastating cyclone causing extensive damage to Vanuatu homes, businesses and food crops, a key theme was the impact of natural disasters.  The conference and workshops focused on global and regional material which could be adapted to suit local settings.  During the Pasifika Study Group, in-country support around mental health and ongoing programs was also requested, and a structured program involving in country mentorship and support for doctors and nurse involved in Child and Adolescent Mental Health has now commenced.

PHF’s Co-chair Dr. Michael Augello commented that this program is vitally aligned with Andrew’s health-for-all advocacy work.  “Reports have shown that addressing mental health needs can have significant favourable consequences for the population’s overall health, including decreasing risks of heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.  The Pacific Health Fund collaborates with health care workers to access support for these important health priorities”

For further information on the work of the Pacific Health Fund, to support this work or to collaborate on future work, please visit

Group Photo

The Pasifika Study Group, Vanuatu, November, 2015