Miss Nauru 2023, Alexandra Melody Pitcher, has called for a re-focus of health priorities on taboo areas of women’s health, as well as the mental and emotional well being of Pacific people, which she says has had to be placed on the backburner since the Covid-19 pandemic took priority in global healthcare systems.
“The covid-19 global pandemic has changed the landscape of how we perceive ‘health’ but it has also stretched an already stressed system of healthcare professionals in the delivery of their work,” said Ms Pitcher during the pre-pageant presentations and interviews held at the Lava Hotel in Apia this week.
Before moving forward to make her point, however, Miss Nauru paused to acknowledge frontliners, and healthcare workers, “who laid their lives on the line for us, to protect us from the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.”
Miss Nauru observed that with the pandemic entering its third year, the strain on healthcare systems in the Pacific region has had substantial affect on the care given to women, particularly when focus shifted towards efforts to stop the spread of the covid virus.
Miss Nauru called on a refocus on areas such as efforts to eliminate preventable neonatal mortality, and taboo areas such as sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptive services and feminine hygiene products.
“We must never forget that a woman’s right to health is related to multiple human rights,” stressed Miss Nauru. “Including the right to life, the right to privacy, the right to education, and the exclusion of discrimination.”
Miss Alexandra Pitcher said certain areas of women’s health are often swept under the mat, left unspoken, and left to fester because of stigmatisation.
“When covid-19 hit us, many issues were lost in the chasm of this health crisis.”
“As Miss Nauru, I am advocating for a Whole of Government, and Whole of Society response anchored on a shared vision for a healthier future.”
“I call on all our Governments to strengthen the policy environment and use strategic communication for network building, stakeholder engagement and enhanced mental health literacy.”
Miss Nauru acknowledged the resilience of Pacific Island Countries in combating the pandemic and called for further strengthening of collaboration between national health systems in the Pacific region.
“Let’s continue to share systems and expertise between our countries, whether through funding, human resources, equipment and tools, as this speaks to the unity and strength of our Pacific way.”
“In closing, I urge all of us speak on the unspoken concerns of our Pacific women, as well as our mental and emotional well being.”
“It would be of benefit to have meaningful conversations on issues that are traditionally perceived as taboo and swept under the rug, so that we may speak and listen with open hearts and open minds.”
With Nauru known to have the highest rates of obesity in the world, Miss Nauru concluded with the reminder that health will always be a critical issue for her nation and the Pacific region, “and we should always continue discussions towards sustainable solutions.”