Improving public health practice through research

20 August 2015



Thirteen health professionals from eight Pacific Island countries and territories embarked this week on an innovative operational research course aimed at addressing issues in national health practice.

Organised jointly by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the course is designed to train and guide the participants in conducting research on issues of particular concern to their country.

How to recognize women with a high risk of developing diabetes during their pregnancy or how to review the use and effects of introducing new laboratory technologies to diagnose tuberculosis are among the numerous research questions being developed by the participants.

The course is organised in three modules, each lasting six to seven days, conducted over a period of 12 months.

During the first module that is currently taking place in Nadi (17-22 August), participants will gain a thorough understanding of operational research and will develop their research protocols.

The next stages of the course will focus on data management and analysis, interpretation of the research results and writing and publishing a scientific article.

While writing their papers, the health professionals will turn the results of their findings into tangible conclusions that can guide policy change and lead to improvements in national health practices.

SPC Epidemiologist and facilitator of the course, Jojo Merilles said this is the second operational research course organised in the Pacific with the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

”The first course, which took place in 2012-2013, was highly successful with 9 out of 12 participants publishing their research findings in the Public Health Action Journal,” Mr Merilles said.

A feature of this course is the mentorship approach which increases the likelihood of successful course completion.

Each participant receives intense and personalised mentorship and support throughout the training, including from a distance in between the three modules.

The course, which in this instance is delivered by health experts from the Union, SPC’s Public Health Division, Médecins Sans Frontières, Pacific Island Health Officers Association, Fiji National University, the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Victoria (Australia) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is made possible with funding support from the Union and SPC.

The 13 participants come from American Samoa, the Federated States of the Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu.


Media contact

Christelle Lepers, Surveillance Information and Communication Officer at SPC, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 687 26 01 81 or 687 84 28 37

Link to papers written by participants of the First Pacific operational research course in 2012-2013, published in Public Health Action online Journal, June 2014

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 September 2015 )