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COVID-19 and O&G in the Pacific Webinars

Dr Rebecca Mitchell, Dr Sybil Bravo, Dr Fatima Shajahan and Shimu Akhter present during the third webinar on COVID-19 and O&G for Pacific O&G specialists, trainees, midwives and others working in women’s health in the Pacific.


Call to Action – Towards the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in the Pacific Islands

Delegates from the following countries and organisations met in Suva, Fiji on 5-6
December 2019 and agreed the Call to Action below:

Delegates from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Federated States
of Micronesia, Fiji and Samoa together with representatives of the Pacific Society for
Reproductive Health, Papua New Guinea Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society, Fiji
Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society, Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research,
Cervical Cancer Prevention in the Pacific, The Pacific Community (SPC), VCS Foundation,
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Kirby
Institute at the University of New South Wales, Family Planning Australia, Australian
Cervical Cancer Foundation, Fiji Cancer Society, Fiji National University, University of
Otago, National University of Samoa and Victoria University. Also present were
representatives of the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Children’s
We agreed to the following principles:

  1. We support the global target to achieve elimination of cervical cancer as a public
    health problem, noting the current high burden of cervical cancer in the Pacific
    and the current lack of adequate vaccination, screening and treatment.
  2. In line with the World Health Organization (WHO) draft targets for 2030, in the
    Pacific our targets are:

    1. a. 90% of girls are fully vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) by
      15 years of age.
    2. b. 70% of women have had an HPV screening test between 30 – 39 years of
      age and a second HPV test between 40 – 49 years of age1.
    3. c. 90% of women identified with cervical pre-cancer and cancer have
      received appropriate treatment and care
  3. We support the principles of equity in striving for the elimination of cervical
    cancer in the Pacific so that no woman or community is left behind.
  4. We support the principle of meaningful collaboration between Pacific Island
    nations in planning, procurement and knowledge sharing.

We are committed to the following actions:

  1. Raising awareness of cervical cancer in the Pacific and its impact on families and
    communities and strengthening advocacy for elimination.
  2. Vaccination
    Exploring funding options including public-private partnerships for ongoing HPV
    vaccination in the Pacific.
    These two tests should be 10 years apart. Clinically validated PCR based tests should be used.
  3. Urging Pacific Island governments to include HPV vaccination against HPV onto
    existing immunization schedules.
  4. Screening
    Urging Pacific Island governments to transition to the delivery of effective cervical
    cancer screening with HPV testing and pre-cancer treatment services.
    Consideration should be given to self-collection of vaginal samples in order to
    facilitate scale up and acceptability.
  5. Treatment:
    Urging cooperation between Pacific Island Governments to establish a treatment
    centre for cervical cancer, including radiotherapy, to act as a referral hub within
    the Pacific.
  6. Workforce:
    Assisting Pacific Island governments and training agencies to develop an essential
    workforce for the delivery of HPV vaccination, cervical cancer screening and the
    management of cervical cancer.
  7. Registry establishment:
    Assisting in establishing an adequate registry to record information about
    vaccination, screening and treatment for the prevention of cervical cancer; and
    with potential linkage to a cancer registry. This will facilitate follow-up of the
    young with incomplete vaccination and women through the screening pathway. It
    will also enable robust monitoring and evaluation of vaccination and screening
    program performance.

For more information, please email/call any of the following:
Professor Alec Ekeroma, HOD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology,
University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. E:; M:
Professor Diana Sarfati, Head of Department, Public Health, University of Otago,
Wellington, New Zealand.
Professor Marion Saville, Executive Director, VCS Foundation, Melbourne, Australia.


Christmas 2018 Newsletter

We attach our special 25th Birthday Newsletter. We wish all our readers a safe and happy Christmas and Holiday Season. 25th Birthday Newsletter December 2018


Flashback – PSRH in 25 years

The concept of a Pacific Society emerged in 1993 in Suva, Fiji by a group of reproductive health professionals who met at an educational meeting organized by the Fiji School of Medicine and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecological (RANZCOG).  Their vision was to establish a Society that fosters continuing medical education and ongoing support for reproductive, maternal and newborn health among Pacific health professionals. The Society would support various forms of capacity building, partnerships, conferences, meetings and networking.  The name South Pacific Regional Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society (SPROGS) was given at that time. RANZCOG through the commitment of Professor Brian Spurret supported the initiative and made it possible for the Secretariat to be located at the College House in Melbourne during its early development.
1995 – The first inaugural meeting of the Society was held in Port Vila, Vanuatu. A structured executive committee was established to run the affairs of the Society. Dr Wame Baravilala (Fiji) was elected the first President. He was the Dean of the Fiji School of Medicine and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
1997 – At the biennial meeting in Apia, Samoa the name changed to Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH), a change put forward by country members to reflect the inclusiveness of country membership.  The term “Reproductive Health” in the Society name also broadens the core business of the Society so that other health professionals become members including midwives, nurses, non-O&G doctors, researchers and academics.
Thereafter, PSRH conferences have been held every two years, preceded by a series of technical skills building workshops on specific topics to respond to the needs of both doctors and midwives. Locations of biennial conferences are listed below:
1999 – Suva, Fiji. The Secretariat was moved to Fiji School of Medicine.
2001 – Madang, Papua New Guinea
2003 – Nadi, Fiji. The Secretariat moved to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPC
2005 – Nadi, Fiji
In April 2006 the Secretariat moved to the Pacific Women’s Health Research & Development Unit which was set up by Dr Alec Ekeroma. The Unit was under the auspices of the University of Auckland and the Counties Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand. The PSRH became registered for the first time as a Charitable Trust with the NZ Charities commission in August 2008 when Salausa Dr John Ah Ching was President and Dr Ekeroma was instrumental in realising that move. The Secretariat was moved to Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma’s private practice at 525 Remuera Rd, Remuera, Auckland in 2012 as the University no longer had office space for the Trust.
2007 –  Apia, Samoa
2009 – New Zealand hosted (Auckland)
2011 – Solomon Islands hosted (Honiara)
2013 – Samoa hosted (Apia)
2015 – Fiji hosted (Suva)
2017 – Port Vila, Vanuatu
2019 – Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
PSRH Presidents
1995-1999:    Dr Wame Baravilala (First president, Fiji)
1999-2001:    Dr Emosi Puni (Samoa)
2001-2003    Prof Glen Mola (PNG)
2003-2007:      Dr Rufina Latu (Fiji)
2007-2011:    John Ah Ching (Samoa)
2011-2015:    Dr Alec Ekeroma (NZ)
2015-2017:    Ms Kathleen Gapirongo (Sol)
2017-current:    Dr Pushpa Nusair (Fiji)
PSRH has gained new heights in the last 25 years of development. It is the only Society in the Pacific whose membership includes doctors, midwives and nurses. It has a unique organization that engages both doctors and midwives in maternal and reproductive health, and has maintained its relevance in the Pacific.

  • Its biennial conferences have been successfully conducted in the last 20 years
  • It has conducted numerous up-skilling training activities for health professionals, inclusive of midwifery and specialist doctors
  • Expended its membership for building a stronger Society
  • Engaged new partners for joint efforts towards common goals
  • Developed stronger links with UNFPA, who has the global mandate for reproductive health
  • Conducted various types of capacity building in collaboration with RANZCOG and other partners
  • Reaffirmed its commitment for a regional initiative and moving together to shape the direction of Reproductive Health in the Pacific.

As PSRH enters its 25th year, we salute the dedicated members of the Secretariat and Board for keeping the organizational affairs afloat.  Appreciation goes to RANZCOG who contributed significantly in the early development of PSRH and continues to assist. We also thank the members across the Pacific, NZ and Australia for your dedication and support; and to the professional partners and donors for believing and trusting in the work that PSRH does.
The future of PSRH depends on a strong Secretariat, an effective Board and dedicated members and partners to work jointly in supporting organizational growth and development.


Message from the President

Dr Pushpa Nusair
Pacific Greetings to our Readers of the PSRH newsletter.
Through this issue of the PSRH newsletter, I am honoured to highlight a number of important PSRH events, on behalf of the Board. First and foremost, I am delighted to share with you that plans are on-track for the 2019 PSRH Biennial Meeting scheduled to take place in Port Moresby in July next year. I was privileged to have visited the O&G Society of PNG a few weeks ago and held discussions with the local organizing committee under the capable hands of Dr Mary Bagita, President of the O&G Society. One of the amazing things I found was the joint collaborative efforts by both the O&G Society and the Midwifery Society in planning next PSRH conference. The launch of the 13th PSRH Meeting was held in Port Moresby on 11th September 2018. The launch was successfully organized by the local committee.
The biennial conference is a major activity of the Society, a unique occasion that allows members and maternal and reproductive health professionals to network, share experience, debate, discuss and agreeing to actions.  This is a meeting not be missed and I encourage you to start planning your mission to Port Moresby ahead of time. The committee reassured me that intending visitors and participants need not be overly concerned about security issues in Port Moresby. We will be taken care of by our local counterparts.
Following the election of the new Board at the last biennial BGM in Port Vila in July 2017, the Board has been kept busy discussing issues on emails and skype. The membership of the Board includes both doctors and midwives and this is particularly important, noting the complementary roles of the two professions when it comes to maternal and newborn care in Pacific settings. In August this year, we held a face to face meeting in Nadi, Fiji which coincided with the conduct of a number of PSRH workshops and the Fiji O&G Society annual symposium.
In February 2018, I was invited by RANZCOG President Dr Steve Robson to hold a meeting in Melbourne. Much to my delight, it was a meeting that led to the establishment of stronger professional ties between RANZCOG and PSRH. An MOU was signed between the two organisations to seal the partnership and to allow for more functional engagements and collaboration that can strategically lead to improved maternal and newborn care in the Pacific.
We do remember that the PSRH conference in 2017 in Vanuatu called for a focus on prevention and management of cervical cancer in the Pacific. Related to this agenda, I was privileged to participate at the Cervical Cancer Meeting in Samoa in May this year. This was a high level meeting organized by the government of Samoa whose invitation extended to international and regional speakers and participation. At this meeting, I facilitated a discussion on developing a Regional Pacific Policy on Cervical Cancer Screening, Management and Prevention.  The discussion was positive and well received but we need to keep the momentum for policy dialogue and even moving towards initial steps for action. At the upcoming PSRH conference in Port Moresby, we will need to revisit this agenda and aim to arrive at some action plans at regional and national levels. We are banking on our partners to assist us with resources, both technically and financially. I call on you all to start taking a thorough country analysis about this subject before the next PSRH conference. Country voices are important in the discussion of what is feasible and what is not for the management and prevention of cancer of cervix.
Urogynecology is often a forgotten topic in health services for women. In Pacific settings, it is often not talked about. Nevertheless, this year PSRH has engaged Dr Jackie Smallbridge to carry out a feasibility study for urogynecology services in Fiji. Results will be shared and if services can be strengthened in Fiji, it is possible to model in other Pacific Island countries.
PSRH worked with Fiji O&G Society to deliver a series of pre-conference workshops. With support of the PSRH Secretariat, Board members and Partners namely RANZCOG, Ministry of Health (Fiji), Fiji National University, UNFPA, SPC and RACs. We organized and successfully ran six workshops. The six workshops were:

  • PEMNeT Workshop:  focusing on maternal and neonatal safety
  • Research Workshop:  focusing on Fiji obstetric audit
  • Family Planning Workshop: focusing on Key to SDGs
  • Colposcopy Workshop:  focusing on standardizing care to prevent cervical cancer
  • Palliative Care Workshop: focusing on giving life to days rather than days to life
  • Professional Development Workshop: focusing on leadership and safety in health practice

Details of these workshops can be accessed from the PSRH website. The success of these workshops is attributed to the PSRH Secretariat, resource persons, Board members and partners. It was also encouraging to have Board members co-facilitating the workshops. PSRH intends to hold similar preconference workshops at the PSRH Meeting in Port Moresby.


PSRH values the roles of Country Focal Points

The PSRH Focal Points (FPs) in each participating Pacific Island country act as eyes and ears for PSRH at country level. Therefore, PSRH regards their roles as critically important to providing relevant information to the Secretariat, especially in sharing PSRH-supported maternal and newborn activities at country level. Focal Points also contribute to collating country news articles that can be featured in the PRSH quarterly newsletter. This way, we are connected across the Pacific Ocean and made aware of important events taking place in the countries.
The current FPs were appointed at the last PSRH Biennial General Meeting in Vanuatu (July 17, purely on voluntary basis. The PSRH Executive has decreed that the FPs roles are:

  • To liaise between PSRH Executive and appropriate authorities in countries on matters relating to PSRH.
  • To coordinate functions and activities of PSRH at country level.
  • To feed relevant country information and updates to Executive, and coordinate country contribution to the PSRH newsletter
  • To facilitate the implementation of PSRH Action Plans agreed to at each biennial meeting.
  • To facilitate membership drive among RH professionals and advocates.
  • To communicate & hold regular PSRH meeting (at least 2-3 times a year) with local PSRH members in respective countries.
  • To facilitate selection of country delegates to attend the PSRH biennial meeting in line with the official procedures of each country.
  • To coordinate fund-raising activities to support country delegation to BGM meetings.
  • To prepare a country presentation for each BGM meeting, as appropriate and to lead the country delegation

For list of Country Focal Points, please visit PSRH website: