Working Session: Healthy Islands/Healthy People: ExaminingHealth Promotion Programs and NCDs in the Pacific (And Viewing of Oceanic Health Promotion Videos and Campaign Materials)
Friday, February 2, 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Versailles C (session), 2:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Versailles C (video screenings)
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, socio-cultural, 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:
We are moving forward to a working session next year in New Orleans. We are asking
those interested to submit abstracts as soon as possible. We invite additional interested
scholars to join, especially those with work in other areas of the Pacific not yet included,
such as in Micronesia.
Ultimately we hope to generate a report or special journal issue in a venue that will be
widely accessible across disciplines and to non-academics. We are looking for suggestions for publishing venues that will grant us the widest possible audience.
Our target audience for these papers is inclusive: we hope to create positive, practical policy recommendations that can be shared with ministries of health and other institutions. These should also have positive implications for practitioners and health workers.
We want to create bridges between research, policy, and practice. Most policy is informed largely by quantitative data and surveillance; there is a recognized need for more qualitative and contextual analysis and we hope to contribute toward bridging that gap.
We want qualitative, ethnographically informed and culturally sensitive research that recognizes and affirms Pacific indigenous understandings of health.
We want to reflexively examine the language, framings, and representations used in talking about Pacific Health and NCDs. A strong shared concern was around how “deficit” model (or mentality) and overemphasis on particular indices of physical health (such as body size or disease status) contributes to the pathologization of Pacific people, communities, and cultures.
The morning session will be followed by an optional afternoon screening of oceanic health promotion videos and campaign materials (starting at 2:00 p.m. in Napoleon). It is hoped that as many of the participants of the morning session will attend this afternoon session, but others who wish to attend are also invited.
The two films so far planned to be screened and discussed in the session include:
The Placemat/Le Pepa Laulau Mea'ai, 12 minutes, (produced by Micah Van der Ryn), which promotes the use of a health promotion placemat to reduce/prevent childhood obesity in American Samoa, by following an American Samoan family in their daily life trying to live healthier within an environment of change that now encourages less healthy choices, and demonstrates how they use the placemat at meal time to remind and teach about healthy choices. This film is currently being used in conjunction with an intervention study we have implemented in partnership with the Department of Human and Social Services "Women, Infant and Children" (WIC) Program in American Samoa.
Gestational Diabetes Mo Lou Lumana'i Manuia, 36 minutes (produced by Micah Van der Ryn), a scripted narrative film following the life of a pregnant American Samoan woman as she learns about gestational diabetes, and then faces obstacles at home from her in-laws about getting herself
tested for GDM. The film is being used in the American Samoa's Hospital Prenatal clinic waiting room in conjunction with a study to see if it improves knowledge and testing for GDM in American Samoa.
Participants of the Healthy Islands/Healthy People session are any others attending the ASAO meetings, are invited to also show any audio/visual material (of any kind) that helps illustrate/demonstrate anything related to their research related to health promotion in their studies, and which they think would be useful for discussion. Please contact Fepulea'i Micah Van der Ryn if you wish to participate in this session, especially if you have media materials on subject matter related to the healthy islands/ healthy people session subject matter that you believe would be helpful for you and others to be screened and discussed.
Fepulea‘i Micah Van der Ryn, Health Communications Researcher/Media Production Manager, Community & Natural Resources Division, American Samoa Community College <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Barbara Andersen, Massey University <B.Andersen1@massey.ac.nz>