Who we are

Today we aren’t faced with things any different than our own forebears did.
We still find ways of making something out of virtually nothing. Across this vast expanse called the Pacific, what makes us a unique and unyielding group is that we believe we are improved by the process of sharing, collaborating and bringing people together. Let’s never lose sight of that as we embrace progress, innovation and digital health. Ike aku, ‘ike mai. Kōkua aku, kōkua mai. Pēlā ka nohona ‘ohana. (Watch, observe. Help others and accept help. That is the family way)

– Lauro Vives – Honorary PHIN Advisor

Our Story and People

As volunteer leaders, the operational Board Members that are made up of the President and Directors play an important role in the success of the Pacific Health Information Network. The Board has significant leadership, legal and ethical responsibilities to the membership, the secretariats and the wider health and digital health profession. A strong and knowledgeable Board helps an organization maintain credibility, provide important access to the community and serve as effective advocates of a profession. The Board works to fulfil its vision, mission and strategic objectives under a core set of values of equity, unity, diversity, innovation and leadership. The current board includes representation from Pacific Island member countries such as Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Cooks Islands.


Our Story and People

PHIN is a diverse group of health, non-health and IT professionals from the Pacific region committed to promoting better use of digital solutions to achieve better health. From supporting health information management to advancing digital health in the Pacific, PHIN has long been at the forefront of creating health system change through networking, capacity building and knowledge sharing. See some of the highlights from our history.

PHIN members are individuals representing public, non-governmental, international development and private institutions serving the health sector. The diversity of our membership base is embodied by healthcare professionals representing clinicians, public health, planning, finance, medical records, statistics, health information and digital health. Deliberately inclusive in our approach, we also welcome non-healthcare professionals from other sectors of government and international development agencies that play a vital role in shaping the future of digital health in the region.

Roots in the Pacific
Our roots date back to 2006, when PHIN was established at a Health Metrics Network (HMN) meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia. PHIN was established as a collaborative effort of like-minded advocates seeking to help Pacific countries with their health information systems development. It was originally created to provide a mechanism for networking, support, information sharing and training for health information professionals in the region. PHIN’s earliest aim was to support health systems achieve better outcomes through strengthening the quality and improving the use of health information.
Picture: Grandmother receives a visit from the social worker in the suburb of Noumea while the mother is still studying.
Golden years
From 2009 to 2013, the Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub (HIS Hub), based at The University of Queensland's School of Public Health in Brisbane, acted as the secretariat of the Pacific Health Information Network (PHIN). Dr. Audrey Aumua, Manager of the HIS Hub, led the establishment of a collaboration of technical partners to improve civil registration and digital health in the Pacific region. During this time, research was generated, priorities for digital health were established, and active engagement was observed. The HIS Hub was funded by AusAID’s Strategic Partnership for Health Initiative. By June 2013 there were 71 PHIN members from 16 different PICTs.
Picture: HIS Hub Manager Dr. Audrey Aumua, Professor Maxine Whittake and HIN members Jeffrey Langati and Lester Dingley from Vanuatu in 2011.
Changing Secretariat
The World Health Organization (WHO) actively supports regional health information networks such as PHIN and the Asian Electronic Health Information Network (AeHIN). Since 2014, the technical secretariat for PHIN has been supported at the WHO sub-regional office in Suva Fiji. The PHIN technical secretariat's role is focused on the coordination, high level advocacy, provision and coordination of trainings and knowledge sharing programs for PHIN members. The technical secretariat also oversees, coordinates and supports PHIN’s work plan. In May 2018, a study was conducted to review PHIN’s accomplishments and to develop a new strategic plan with much stronger emphasis on digital health adoption and donor and regional cooperation. In 2018, The Pacific Community (SPC) joined the technical secretariat as co-secretariat. In 2020, a partnership was forged with the Australian Volunteer Program resulting in the hiring of a volunteer to establish a new PHIN Secretariat.
Picture: Nicola Hodge (PHIN Secretariat, the University of Queensland's School of Public Health) and Teanibuaka Tebunga (PHIN member, Kiribati Health Information unit) checking the data, 2012.
Rotating Country Leadership and Collaborative Innovation with Members
As volunteer leaders, the operational Board Members is composed of a President and four Directors and play an important role in the success of the Network. Board members are PHIN Country Representatives and are nominated for 3-year periods. Over the years, the PHIN presidency has been led by several countries namely Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands. The current PHIN president is from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Picture: Shivnay facilitating the group work. Mr. Shivnay Naidu, Director of the Health Information at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services was acting PHIN President until 2018.
Technology moves fast, human needs change slowly
In past years PHIN’s focus has been supporting regional activities such as peer-to-peer networking and contributing to regional technical assistance mainly through studies and training. Today, PHIN’s primary focus is to continually build capacity, further strengthen stakeholder engagement, and exercise sustained leadership by supporting country-led initiatives, establishing regional synergies, coordinating joint regional activities and providing professional development courses and strategic advisories on digital health. PHIN have contributed the development of over 100 health information products that are intended for use by various audiences and stakeholders across the region and beyond. This includes but is not limited to the ongoing development of the Digital Health Country Profiles with the WHO and the University of New South Wales; the Health Identification briefing note with WHO; the Digital Health Implementation Guide for the Pacific supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB); the digital health policy briefing notes with the Asia Pacific Observatory (APO).
Picture: Digital Health Country Profiles were discussed in the last large-scale pre-pandemic meeting in New Caledonia on July 2019. In the picture PHIN members from New Caledonia, French Polynesia and FSM, facilitated with Vick Bennet and Navreet Bhattal from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Gatherings of healthcare, digital health, IT, CRVS and non-health professionals
One of PHIN’s primary function is to provide a platform for peer-to-peer knowledge exchange discussions and to strengthen the capacity of institutions and individuals. This platform is open to healthcare workers and non-health professionals – all major and relevant stakeholders to the success of digital health adoption in our region. Since the establishment of PHIN, various workshops and meetings have been held across the Pacific and at the WHO regional office in Manila, Philippines. However, beyond peer discussions and information exchange, PHIN have also charted a new direction to be much more action-oriented and to engage directly front line healthcare workers, clinicians, administrators and other custodians and partners of healthcare to improve adoption and strengthen capacity for digital health across the Pacific.
Picture: Palau and American Samoa participants with HIS consultant, Miriam Lum Om, PHIN meeting in 2013. Miriam is currently Head, Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit at Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Partnering with others
One of PHIN’s key strategies is to forge strong collaborative relationships with leading institutions and partners with common values and interests on how to further develop digital health capacity in the region. Today, the following organizations have been strong proponents of PHIN. These include, but is not limited to: WHO, SPC, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the Australian DFAT, the Australian Volunteer Program, the Brisbane Accord Group (BAG), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), UNICEF, UNFPA and the University of New South Wales. PHIN has a strategic alliance with its Asian network counterpart AeHIN. PHIN is also one of the founding members of the Network of Network (NoN) under the Global Digital Health Network. (GDHN).
Picture: Mark Landry from WHO providing his concluding remarks on the workshop in 2011. Mark was the Health Information Technical Officer and eHealth Focal Point for the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO). Currently he is the regional advisor for Health Situation and Trend Assessment in the Health Systems Development Department in the WHO South-East Asia.