SPC: Prioritize Programs Throughout Pacific, Says Niue’s Hipa

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New Caledonia – There is a need to prioritise programmes throughout the Pacific Region, as well as within the individual countries and territories.

This is the view of Mr Richard Hipa, Secretary to the Niue Government, and focal person in Niue for the SPC.

He was amongst the representatives of Pacific Island countries and territories attending the recent meeting of the Committee of Regional Governments and Administrations (CRGA) and Conference, the governing bodies of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community (SPC).

Held at the headquarters of the SPC in Noumea, the four-day meeting was an opportunity for the 22 Pacific Island member countries and territories together with Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America, to review technical and scientific projects taking place within the region.

“SPC has been with us, very far back, as an organisation that deals with people at the grass roots level on issues of health, agriculture, education, and now climate change, which has come to the fore and is a component of every issue that we deal with now,” said Mr Hipa.

“One of Niue’s difficulties as a small island country is that we do not have the numbers of people to attend, digest and report on these important international conferences. Some of us, like myself, have to wear many hats.

“We are currently reviewing our programmes in Niue. So they are not overloaded. If we engage ourselves in too many projects with a limited human capacity to undertake them, that is a concern.”

Mr Hipa said that another challenge they had recognised in Niue a few years ago was that they were doing similar programmes with more than one organisation, and there was not the time nor capacity to deal with, for example, three organisations on one project.

“We need to deal with one organisation on a project or programme, which will help the donor countries and the organisation concerned.”

Mr Hipa believes that this is where prioritising programmes on a regional basis can play a part.

[Richard Hipa; Courtesy SPC]

“As a member of SPC, we have got to appreciate what is happening in other countries, and if there is a crisis that needs to be addressed, that the budget should be targeting those countries with the greatest need and the others can be scheduled late on.”

Attending this meeting has been of immediate benefit to Mr Hipa, as he has received advice on how to make it easier for donor partners to roll out programmes within the Niue community.

Amongst Niue’s priorities are working with SPC/SOPAC division on maritime boundaries and a water programme to b completed at the end of the year.

“We are also keenly aware of health issues such as non communicable diseases (NCDs) and HIV/AIDS awareness. While we do not have HIV/AIDS cases in Niue, we cannot afford to be complacent, and need to find a way to protect our population without infringing on the human rights of possible carriers entering the country. As for NCDs, we have to focus on primary, health care as preventable lifestyle diseases are becoming more prevalent.

The CRGA meeting has helped Mr Hipa look at what is taking place within the region, and as a result, he sees a need to review health Niue’s regulations.

“We are very conscious of statistics where health is concerned, and we need to look at our health regulations in order to protect our small population from vulnerability to any diseases,” said Mr Hipa.