New Proposed Sessions
Informal Session: Healthy Island-Healthy Peoples: Examining Health Promotion Programs and NCDs in the Pacific
Twenty two scholars with research experience and interests on various aspects of health promotion and health strategies in American Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawai‘i, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu attended this initial informal session. Several participants stated they had come to listen and discuss, but would not be continuing as contributing
authors, while several other scholars are committed to continuing, but were unable to attend the 2017 session. Session organizer Micah Van der Ryn invited interested participants to join him as co-organizers, and very happily received three willing and talented people. They are Barbara Andersen, Fele Uperesa, and Jemaima Tiatia-Seath.
The session began with an introduction of Healthy Islands, Healthy People as a framework that Pacific Island nation health ministries had adopted several decades ago and a discussion of our focus on the anthropological analysis and evaluation of how various islands have adapted this framework to address their public health concerns, in which the epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome (aka, non-communicable diseases) dominates. Each session participant then introduced
themselves, their work and interests in relationship to the session focus. This was followed by a stimulating round table discussion of a variety of observed related issues including various environmental, sociocultural, political and economic conditions shaping the determinants of health and policies and approaches island governments are applying to address public health concerns. Additional topics discussed were body size and image, developing class structure as a barrier, the need to not neglect infectious diseases, and syndemic reactions between communicable and non-communicable diseases, cultural classification and political economy of food, spiritual, mental and social dimensions of health, commodification of health, localized definitions
of health, and how public health initiatives, strategies and campaigns are framed and targeted within cultural milieus and processes.
We all agreed that we want to use anthropological insights to strengthen efforts by Pacific communities in sustaining and improving their health and well-being, and that there is a need for qualitative ethnographic research to understand the ramifications of and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of health strategies and promotions.
With this shared understanding we have the following goals and guidelines:
Fepulea‘i Micah Van der Ryn, Health Communications Researcher/Media Production Manager, Community & Natural Resources Division, American Samoa Community College <firstname.lastname@example.org>