The conference themed “Celebrating Knowledge”, focused on non-communicable diseases, research, mental health and family health (children, youth, men and women).
Health secretary Dr Aumea Herman hailed the conference as a fantastic event for the medical practitioners, nurses, researchers, social scientists and others involved in the medical and health field.
“The special thing about this particular conference this year was that we had invited our diaspora. The Ministry of Health and our government does not have enough money and space to have all our Cook Islands specialists in the country; what we can do is find a mechanism to bring that kind of intellectual capacity into the country - and that’s what we have done in this conference,” Dr Herman said.
“In terms of other special thing about this meeting, we have invited our retired nurses and doctors, our previous ministers of health and previous secretaries of health.
“They are the ones whose shoulders we stand on today and I think it’s important that we promote a culture of honour to our pioneers and in a small way, acknowledge all the work they have done to bring us to where we are today.”
Dr Herman said as health professionals, they need to do their work better in terms of empowering the community.
She said health professionals often forgot who they served, adding the onus was on the ministry and their health professionals to push the message across so people can understand their roles and responsibilities.
“I think what we have done here (at the conference) has been important strategically to position the ministry going forward. Prior to the conference proper, we held two sessions, a medical and nursing workshop, for strategic planning meetings,” Dr Herman said.
“For me who is new in this job, it was important to hear the thoughts of our medical and nursing fraternity – the biggest workforce we have, in terms of where we are going and what we need to do to improve.
“I think those learnings as well as the learnings we are picking up from this conference is important to hold the ministry very firmly.”
During the closing of the conference yesterday, a strategic panel discussion was held where Dr Herman invited the managers of the health system in the Cook Islands to do a short presentation.
“I don’t want to be the only voice for the ministry. I want the 300-strong workforce to be our voices so we gave the space for our managers to step up.
“They have been appointed for a reason because they are supposed to know their job better than anyone else so I wanted us to have that discussion and that debate.
“I’m sure we will find some important gems that we need to take note of going forward.”