WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has authorized $1,656,055 in funding to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Ministry of Health and Human Services under the Four Atoll Healthcare Program. This program is used to provide basic healthcare services for the people of the four nuclear-affected atolls in the RMI – Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrok.
“Each year, the U.S. Congress provides funds, fulfilling the United States’ commitment to the people of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrok,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Many families in these remote areas depend on the provision of these healthcare services and resources. Healthy families in the Pacific contribute to a strong Indo-Pacific region.”
“We are pleased to provide this support to the people of the Marshall Islands through the Office of Insular Affairs,” said Doug Domenech, Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs. “We are proud to be part of strengthening the U.S.-RMI relationship under the Compact of Free Association.”
Under the Four Atoll Healthcare Program, the FY 2020 funding is used to support healthcare clinics on Majuro, Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Utrok to support over 20,000 people from the four nuclear-affected atolls. Services include primary and ancillary healthcare services such as eye care, dental care, cervical screenings, and a diabetes prevention and wellness program. According to a 2018 census conducted in the RMI, the targeted populations include 2,088 patients in the four atolls and 18,782 patients who have migrated from the four atolls and now reside on Majuro.
Since 2008, the Office of Insular Affairs has provided over $14 million in Technical Assistance Program funding to the Four Atoll Healthcare Program – sometimes referred to as the Section 177 Healthcare Program. Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok are the four RMI atolls impacted by the nuclear weapons testing program carried out by the U.S. Department of Defense between 1946 and 1958.
The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.