Despite being preventable, cervical cancer is the leading cause of women’s death in many developing countries. For women of the Pacific, incidence rates are equally as alarming.
As a Pacific Islander herself, Renata recalls the gratification she felt during her 2016 consultancy commissioned by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to present a collective response to their cervical cancer problem.
“The Pacific suffers the 2nd highest rate of burden of cervical cancer in the world. Being a Pacific Islander, I felt I had a personal responsibility to my fellow female Pacific Islanders [to protect them] and in essence, protect our pacific way of life.
We proposed policy options that considered resources at various country levels to address treatment and care using low-cost, effective measures for a realistic approach.
At a regional level, a plan to purchase vaccines using a bulk procurement mechanism was suggested to add the vaccine to the current UNICEF Vaccine procurement system, which exists for childhood immunisations.”
By reducing the costs for the vaccine and making it affordable for regions to implement, the impact of Renata’s team's work can be felt across all Pacific Island communities.
Following the 2016 consultancy, the Pacific Island leaders were able to prioritise and endorse the development of a regional prevention program, procuring the cervical cancer vaccine to the Pacific region.
Working in public health is truly is a rewarding profession but working in public health in your own community brings a sense of fulfillment and of service that is beyond words.
“Women in our culture have always been the core carers and hold importance in families and communities, in persevering our values and culture.
The 2016 consultancy filled me with overwhelming gratification, knowing that my contribution will protect lives from the overwhelming threat of a preventable disease.”
Renata graduated from the Master of Health Policy in 2015. Today she is the first local female Country Director for the UNAIDS Pacific Office based in Fiji and a 2014 recipient of the Australia Awards Scholarship.