New regional ENT plan for the Pacific

Public health

Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple

Australian and New Zealand ENT and Audiology experts have been meeting this spring with their counterparts from 6 Pacific Islands to help develop a plan to tackle an alarming regional shortage in hearing health equipment and workforce.

March and April meetings in Nadi, Fiji, were convened by PENTAG, the 3rd Pacific Ear, Nose, Throat and Audiology Group, representing six Pacific Island countries where a high number of related cases has stretched resources to the limit. In Fiji, around 9.6% of the population is living with hearing impairment. ENT specialist Dr. Oh Chungyeon reported that this country alone recorded over four thousand ENT cases in the past year, 276 of them requiring surgery, although with no clinics in many densely populated areas, the real figure is expected to be higher.

From Samoa, surgeon Dr. Sione Pifeleti reported: "Despite the limited resources we have in our ENT Clinic, I have seen 2,225 cases last year, and 42.9% of those are ear infections."

Pieleti called for a "solid partnership" with other Pacific Island countries and greater knowledge exchange. The first meeting of PENTAG was held in 2015 with the assistance of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) . A medium-term regional plan was developed to assess the burden of disease in the region and the resources needed to address it. This most recent two-day meeting, held at the beginning of March, led to a proposal for a regional PENTAG survey to be carried out later in 2019. Discussions to develop a guidance plan and improved resource allocation are ongoing.

Source: Scoop (NZ)