It was a privilege and an honour to attend the Pacific Health Research Symposium held at the University of Auckland’s South Campus in Manukau. Several Pasifika clinicians, public health experts, and academics spoke on a range of topics and issues surrounding Pasifika health. Being a new Research assistant intern with Moana Research as well as a student currently completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Science, I found this symposium extremely valuable and informative.
“Collaboration for Better Pacific Health” was the theme of the symposium, and one of the core recurring messages across all the presentations was the need for stronger collaborations across all stakeholders in Pacific health and the critical importance of research and initiatives designed for Pasifika communities to be driven by Pasifika communities.
During my tertiary studies learning about similar topics spoken at the symposium, I would memorize and regurgitate the lecturer’s notes in assignments and tests. However, attendance at the symposium identified a significant difference by providing an opportunity to listen to passionate presenters talk about these issues. In addition, the quality of knowledge that was shared was eye-opening. Furthermore, wanting to work in the health sector to improve outcomes of the Pasifika community, this symposium provided a huge insight into this area including the specific needs and changes required to achieve health equity for our Pasifika community.
Another highlight of the day was listening to the presentations from the Moana Research team, Jacinta Faalili-Fidow, Dr. Teuila Percival, and Amio Ikihele. Jacinta Faalili-Fidow shared Moana Research’s story, “Moana Research: Reclaiming Pacific spaces”. Moana Research is an organization that is owned by Pacific clinicians and researchers working autonomously allowing the application of Pacific methodologies and values in all research projects delivered. Dr. Teuila spoke on child and adolescent research. Amio Ikihele spoke about DigiFale – a new tool designed to strengthen health literacy among the Pasifika community which was piloted with a group of Niuean elderly from Mangere Presbyterian Pacific Island Church.
Nearing the end of the symposium there was the opportunity for students to present their masters and Ph.D. research projects. One presentation that was interesting and that I enjoyed was “Run It Straight! Pasifika Men, Mental Well-being, and Elite Sports” by Caleb Masters. This project was looking at the increasing prevalence of mental health issues that young pacific males face when pursuing a career in professional sports.
I am extremely grateful to Moana Research for having me onboard and therefore allowing me to attend the symposium. Also thank you to Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, the Pacific Medical Association, and the University of Auckland for organizing the symposium.