Working Session: Healthy Island-Healthy Peoples: Examining Health Promotion Programs and NCDs in the Pacific
Last year, our 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, socio- cultural, political and economic conditions shaping the determinants of health and policies and approaches is- land 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 in- sights 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. Drafts of full papers will be circulated in December 2017. 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.
Fepulea‘i Micah Van der Ryn, Health Communications Researcher/Media Production Manager, Community & Natural Resources Division, American Samoa Community College <email@example.com>;
Barbara Andersen, Massey University <B.Andersen1@massey.ac.nz>;
Fele Uperesa, University of California <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, University of Auckland <j.tiatia- email@example.com>