Cook Islands PM Henry Puna (US Embassy NZ)

ALOFI/RAROTONGA, 03 OCTOBER 2019 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) — Cook Islands Prime Minister has warned that climate change is exacerbating health risks in the Pacific.

Henry Puna used his recent Niue visit in an attempt to strengthen bilateral ties with its nearest neighbour.

Puna met Niue’s Premier, Sir Toke Talagi, and his Cabinet last week to discuss matters of common interest and cooperation from both bilateral and regional perspectives.

The positive progress being made on the implementation of the Manatua Cable initiative topped the discussions.

The Manatua Cable will provide internet connections from Apia, Samoa to Toahotu, Tahiti, with branching units for landings to Niue; Aitutaki, Rarotonga and Bora Bora.

Puna was in Niue to attend the Pasifika Medical Association Conference held from 24-26. He was invited in his capacity as current chair of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, a role he will hold for the next two years.

In presenting the keynote address to the conference, Puna emphasised on the theme of “The Rising Tide” and how climate change undermines the determinants of health.

“It is an effect multiplier, aggravating health risks or pre-existing threats, amplifying the impact of weather-related disasters, and threatening the stability of good health, targeting clean water, sanitation, NCDs and mental health,” Puna said in his keynote address.

“We are here to celebrate the achievements of our Pacific health professionals and congregate in solidarity, as the people of the Pacific, who have to respond to the rising effects of climate change, turn the tide on NCDs, navigate towards positive mental health and share innovative approaches to workforce development.

“My government is committed to championing the regional health agenda, and in particular, addressing the current NCD’s crisis currently facing the region. This is something I will be prioritising throughout my term as Secretariat of the Pacific Community chair over the next two years.”

Puna was accompanied by Cook Islands Secretary of Health, Dr Josephine Aumea Herman, Dr Joseph Williams, Dr Francis Agnew, Dr Evangelene Daniela, Hamish Crooks, Dr Tamarua Herman and Dr Neti Herman. (PACNEWS)