20 August 2015

Pacific Community supports Northern Mariana Islands with post-typhoon Soudelor public health surveillance

The Northern Mariana Islands, along with the other U.S. dependencies of Guam and American Samoa enjoy membership in the Pacific Community. 

Following a request from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation for additional expertise in the wake of typhoon Soudelor, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has sent a senior epidemiologist to Saipan to assist with public health surveillance.

SPC epidemiologist, Dr Paul White, has arrived in Saipan from SPC headquarters in Noumea and will work closely with the Commonwealth Health Authorities and partners from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention over the next two weeks.

“We’re very pleased to provide epidemiology support to our colleagues in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to ensure public health security in the aftermath of the devastating typhoon Soudelor,” SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said.

“In post-disaster situations, SPC is able to provide specialised support and services to Pacific Community members based on their specific needs,” he said.

Rated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre as a category two when it devastated parts of the Northern Mariana Islands, typhoon Soudelor intensified early last week to a maximum category five before reaching Taiwan and China.

Dr White will assist with setting-up post-disaster surveillance systems in designated areas, such as temporary shelters for displaced people.

He will also provide assistance with the collection, analysis and dissemination of real-time health data and timely response to potential disease outbreaks.

SPC’s Public Health Division provided similar practical support to the Government of Vanuatu following tropical cyclone Pam earlier this year. Dr White was part of the team deployed to Tanna Island, Vanuatu.