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Ms Tina Vunipola is a senior health promotion officer from Tonga. She recently attended a 4-day health leadership training for current students, graduates, and facilitators of the Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific - Data for Decision Making (SHIP-DDM) capacity-building programme. SHIP-DDM is one of the six service networks of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) and works to build the core epidemiological skills of health workers across the Pacific.

Facilitated by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) and the Australian National University and funded by the Australian Government under the Pacific Evidence Informed Policies and Programs (Pac-EVIPP) Project, this interactive training enabled participants from 7 countries to reflect on their current role and how best to apply practical leadership skills to improve current practices within the health workplace.

We caught up with Ms Vunipola, after the training to find out how she thought it would benefit her work.         


How has this health leadership training empowered you?

Usually, when I hear the word ‘leadership’, I associate it with the responsibility and weight of being a leader. This training, however, has completely changed my perception of the word thanks to the practical interactive sessions that helped me unpack what a good leader is. Now, when I hear the word ‘leadership’, I think of how fun it is to be a leader. The training was delivered brilliantly in such a creative and innovative way that allowed us to have fun and at the same time experience and feel the reality of being leaders.

How have you applied this training to your current workplace?

I have started using the [tools introduced during the] training to learn and better understand my normal daily routine at work. Presently, I am a senior health promotion officer and one of my core duties is to ensure optimum wellness is achieved by staff. I am currently using [these tools] with the aim to develop a project of implementing a feedback mechanism at my workplace. (…) I also look forward to adapting this method of training (play-based lessons) for the community, especially with our upcoming young leaders in Tonga.

Director for the SPC Public Health Division Dr Berlin Kafoa said. “These workshops are all part of SPC’s commitment to continuing professional development that assists health workers to apply lessons learnt in their respective countries.”