Walsh School of Foreign Service
Oceanic Currents

Vulnerability of Pacific Island Country Hospitals: Critical Infrastructure that must be Addressed

Patients waiting for medical treatment at Honiara’s National Referral Hospital. (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2013.)

In this Ocean Current Occasional Paper, Dr. Eileen Natuzzi examines the vulnerability of Pacific Island country hospitals. The COP27 Loss and Damage Fund agreement was a celebrated win for Pacific Island Countries (PICs). They are within the most at risk region worldwide due to being subject to regular extreme weather events. Adaptation funding has not adequately addressed preventing risk and loss. In 2016 the World Risk Report defined critical infrastructure as essential adaptation to address in order to reduce both human and economic losses due to risk vulnerability. The sectors that make up critical infrastructure include “health” which straddles two adaptation sectors: hardscape infrastructure which includes hospitals and conventional health delivery. Hospitals have historically been seen as investments in health. Vulnerable Pacific Island hospitals that lack the luxury of redundancy of services while serving populations of people living on atolls and isolated islands need to be seen as critical infrastructure. This analysis looks at 78 hospitals located in 14 Pacific Island Countries through the lens of climate change critical infrastructure adaptation.

Dr Natuzzi acknowledges the assistance and advise given to her by the dedicated medical staff at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Dr. Eileen Natuzzi, MD, MPH, draws on over 18 years experience of building capacity in Solomon Islands health care. She received her medical degree from George Washington University, did her surgical training at the University of California San Francisco and obtained her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology from San Diego State University. She currently serves as Solomon Island’s co-coordinator for the Australia New Zealand Gastrointestinal International Training Association (ANZGITA) and is a visiting staff member at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara, Guadalcanal. The ANZGITA program along with the doctors and nurses at the NRH established the first endoscopy service for the country which is now defining the prevalence and epidemiology of gastrointestinal diseases the people of Solomon Islands suffer from.Dr. Natuzzi’s main focus is on the health impacts from climate change, in particular extreme weather events in urban Pacific Island environments. She actively advocates for health system infrastructure development aid as a means to reduce risk and harms from extreme weather events. Dr. Natuzzi has published a number of papers on health and climate change in Solomon Islands as well as editorials on issues pertinent to geopolitical events in The Hill, The Diplomat, DevPolicy, Griffith University’s Pacific Outlook and Global Health Governance in
addition to publishing in medical journals.

To download a copy of the paper click here.

climate change
public health
Solomon Islands