The individual, the government and the global community: sharing responsibility for health post-2015 in Vanuatu, a small island developing stateReport as inadecuate

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International Journal for Equity in Health

, 14:102

First Online: 24 October 2015Received: 02 April 2015Accepted: 14 October 2015DOI: 10.1186-s12939-015-0244-1

Cite this article as: Ibell, C., Sheridan, S.A., Hill, P.S. et al. Int J Equity Health 2015 14: 102. doi:10.1186-s12939-015-0244-1


IntroductionThe end of 2015 will see the creation of the sustainable development goals – the new global framework for development. The process of creating universally relevant goals has involved community consultation throughout the world. Within this process it is vital that Pacific Island countries are included as they face particular development challenges due to their size and geographical location. As small island developing states, many Pacific Island countries struggle to overcome high rates of poverty and poor health outcomes. In order to include Pacific voices in the new health related sustainable development goals, Vanuatu was selected as a representative of the Pacific for this qualitative study. This paper presents the perspectives of communities throughout Vanuatu on their essential health needs and how best to meet them.

MethodsThis paper examines the perspectives of 102 individuals from throughout Vanuatu. Ten focus group discussions and 2 individual interviews were conducted within communities in September 2013. Discussions focused on community perceptions of health, essential health needs, and responsibility in achieving health needs. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were then analysed using a theoretical thematic approach in order to identify central themes and subthemes.

ResultsIndividuals in this study demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of health, defining health in a holistic manner. Participants identified clear environmental and societal factors that impact upon health, and emphasized failures within the current health system as important barriers to attaining good health. Participants described the challenges faced in taking responsibility for one’s health, and pointed to both the government and the international community as key players in meeting the essential health needs of communities.

ConclusionsAs a small island developing state, Vanuatu faces accentuated development challenges – particularly as globalisation and climate change progress. The individuals and communities in this study demonstrate a clear understanding of their needs, and show a strong desire for change. They point to both the government and the international community to assist in meeting health needs, and stress that respect for traditional governance and community involvement in decision-making are vital in this process. In order to ensure that the new health goals effectively meet local needs in Vanuatu such factors must be incorporated into policy and implementation decision-making.

KeywordsSustainable development goals Post-2015 health agenda Pacific Island Countries Small island developing states AbbreviationsMDGMillennium development goals

SDGSustainable development goals

PICPacific Island Country

UNUnited Nations

NCDNon-communicable disease

GDPGross domestic product

DHSDemographic and health survey


STISexually transmitted infection

WHOWorld Health Organisation

HIVHuman immunodeficiency virus

STEPSSTEPwise approach to surveillance of risk factors for NCDs survey

SIDSSmall island developing state

NGONon-government organisation

Ni-VanuatuLocal person from Vanuatu

SAMOASIDS accelerated modalities of action pathway

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Author: Claire Ibell - Simon A. Sheridan - Peter S. Hill - John Tasserei - Marie-France Maleb - Jean-Jacques Rory


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