Donors are making a difference in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific

Students in Port Vila, Vanuatu. ©WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

Contributions to WHO have helped Vanuatu become the first Pacific island country to eliminate a disease that causes blindness, improve food security in Mongolia and fight a deadly liver disease in Viet Nam .

On the Pacific islands, emergency medical teams are learning how to quickly set up and run field hospitals, children are catching up on routine vaccinations they missed during the COVID-19 pandemic and new drowning prevention have been implemented in countries around the world. world.

Read on for these stories and more

Related: The Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum on Global Health focuses on strengthening health security and is a platform for parliamentarians to exchange ideas, build political will, build capacity and foster collaboration for sustainable action for health.

Vanuatu eliminates trachoma, the world’s leading cause of blindness

Epidemiological surveys in 2014 showed that 12% of children aged 1-9 years in Vanuatu had active trachoma. The statistic sparked an aggressive effort that succeeded in eradicating the disease. Above, schoolchildren take a lunch break in Port Vila, Vanuatu. ©UNICEF/Bobby Shing

Vanuatu announced in August that it was the first Pacific island country to eliminate trachoma, a neglected tropical disease that can cause blindness.

“To understand the magnitude of this feat, just imagine what it takes to reach the people of all the inhabited islands of Vanuatu – taking boats on the high seas and walking for hours through coves and hills through all the time,” the WHO regional director said. for the Western Pacific Dr Takeshi Kasai. “My heartfelt congratulations go out to Vanuatu for this tremendous achievement.”

The WHO is following a 10-year roadmap, launched last year, to tackle neglected tropical diseases that put more than a billion people at risk worldwide.

Pacific islands build capacity to fight COVID-19

Health workers carry COVID-19 vaccines to communities in the interior of the Micronesian island of Yap. ©WHO/Ann Norizal Lopez

The Government of Japan is funding a year-long project to prepare hard-to-reach areas of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau to fight COVID-19.

The project, which runs until next March, is setting up emergency medical teams and logistics, positioning essential equipment and supplies and working with health professionals and communities to be ready for cases of COVID-19.

“As we see an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Pacific, it is all the more important that we strengthen these measures to protect people on hard-to-reach outer islands, said Dr Mark Jacobs, WHO Representative for the South Pacific and Pacific Technical Support Manager. “We thank the governments of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau for their leadership and the government of Japan for their contribution to ensuring that we save lives.

Regional: Find out how to get COVID-19 vaccines to hard-to-reach groups across the Western Pacific.

Japan: Discover the many ways it supports the WHO.

LOOK: “They went house to house, urging us to get vaccinated” – the work of a civil society organization with WHO in Manicani, a remote island in the Philippines.

Mongolia is transforming its food system to ensure safer food and increase food security

At work: food inspectors in Mongolia. ©Mongolian General Agency for Special Investigations

Mongolia is building a safer food sector to stop foodborne illnesses, fight malnutrition and ensure a stable food supply in the years to come.

WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have helped implement a multi-pronged strategy for food security in the country, where hunger threatens a quarter of the population.

“Food businesses and inspectors were often pitted against each other, with one seen as the punisher and the other as the offender,” said Gerelmaa Lkhaasuren, senior health inspector at the General Agency for Specialized Investigations. “Today, food companies and inspectors are working together to reduce food safety risks and have prioritized education over punishment.”

More from Mongolia:

Mobile healthcare for hard-to-reach communities

USAID and WHO provide equipment for mental health services in Ulaanbaatar.

Curing hepatitis C in rural Vietnam

None of the dozens of people recently checked for hepatitis C in Tam Dao village had ever been tested before, although all were from high-risk groups. Above: A visiting health worker from the Minh Phat organization provides the free test. ©WHO Viet Nam/Huong Le

In Vietnam, health workers travel to remote communities to fight hepatitis C, a curable liver disease that kills an estimated 290,000 people worldwide each year.

Teams are also tracing and testing people who avoid health facilities due to stigma and discrimination.

Testing and treating people close to their homes is one of the strategies to achieve the WHO goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. In September, the WHO South Asia Region East will launch an action plan to stop viral hepatitis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

WATCH: In Malaysia, more than 400,000 people are living with hepatitis C. One patient, Safri, explains how he was cured.

Up Close and Personal: Stories from the Western Pacific

The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific has collected stories of how people have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Philippines, Maria Fe Inting Molina and her family provided supplies to unemployed rickshaw drivers, while in New Zealand a Maori community leader encouraged others to get vaccinated.

See personal mini-stories from six countries.

LOOK: The Malaysian RELATE ME program was developed to relieve the isolation and mental stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catch-up: Indonesia vaccinates millions of children

A health worker checks the immunization status of siblings during the childhood immunization campaign in Indonesia. ©WHO/Iqbal Lubis

Indonesia is on a mission to bring children up to date on their routine immunizations after two years of pandemic-related disruptions to the country’s immunization schedules.

For National Child Immunization Month in June, the country led a campaign to reach 36 million children with vaccines that protect against polio, diphtheria, measles, rubella and other diseases.

Indonesia noted a decline of about 10 percentage points in childhood immunization coverage in the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. As in many other countries, the decline is due to supply chain disruptions, movement restrictions and a shortage of healthcare workers.

Drowning Prevention: Celebrating 2021-22 Achievements

For World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25, Bloomberg Philanthropies has partnered with Viet Nam to deliver water safety lessons to more than 50,000 children across the country. ©Bloomberg

Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and many other countries have conducted water safety campaigns, with an emphasis on teaching children and training educators. The push follows a 2021 United Nations General Assembly resolution on preventing drowning.

WHO supports crisis training exercises for medical teams in Pacific island countries

Fiji’s FEMAT team practice crisis preparedness drills. ©WHO/Jason Chute

Emergency medical teams in Pacific island countries have honed their skills to respond quickly to humanitarian crises. This means knowing how to set up a field clinic from scratch and provide care that meets quality standards.

“In the Pacific, we are dealing with COVID-19, worsening disasters due to climate change and outbreaks of infectious diseases such as measles or dengue,” said Gaafar J. Uherbelau, Minister of Health and Palau Social Services. “We’re not just a small island state, we’re also an open-ocean nation, and we need the ability to cover communities spread across hundreds of miles of the Pacific Ocean.”

With the support of WHO and many partners, emergency medical teams have been set up in Fiji, Cook Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, and new teams are forming in Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. , Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu.

Related: Palau’s new emergency medical team is named after the rope that holds the sails of traditional canoes

The Republic of Korea trains biomanufacturing professionals

In July, more than 100 participants from 24 countries attended training in the Republic of Korea aimed at helping low- and middle-income countries boost production of vaccines and biologicals. ©International Vaccine Institute

The Republic of Korea is supporting training sessions for members of the biomanufacturing workforce in low- and middle-income countries as part of a global effort to decentralize the manufacturing of vaccines and other health products. essential health.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea is working with the WHO Academy to establish a global biomanufacturing training center on the outskirts of Seoul that will serve countries wishing to locally produce vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies , cancer treatments and other essential health products.

Local manufacturing would not only make countries better off in the event of a pandemic, global health officials say, but also prepare for local disease outbreaks, aid neighbors and help solve a huge global vaccine manufacturing capacity deficit.

Find out more about the biofabrication training center.

See the call for applications for the October course in Seoul, on good practices in biomanufacturing.


WHO thanks all governments, organizations and individuals who contribute to the work of the Organization, and in particular those who have provided fully flexible contributions to maintain a strong and independent WHO.

Donors and partners featured in this week’s stories include: Australia, Australian NGO Cooperation Programme, Commonwealth Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Community Chest of Korea, European Union, Fred Hollows Foundation, Gavi, Vaccine Alliance, International Life Saving Federation, International Maritime Rescue Federation, International Trachoma Initiative at the Task Force for Global Health, Japan, Korea Foundation for International Health Care, Republic of Korea, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Minh Phat, Nagaoka University of Technology, New Zealand, People in Need, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Royal Life Saving, Soap Aid, Sri Lanka Life Saving and USAID.

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