With a career in health that spans 30 years, the recently appointed National Clinical Director for Pacific Health, Hilda Fa’asalele, has a lifetime of experience to draw on in undertaking her day-to-day role at the Ministry of Health. An Aniva alumna of 10 years, Hilda took up the Wellington-based role in November 2012 after finishing up as General Manager at the Auckland District Health Board.
The decision to relocate to Wellington from Auckland – where Hilda’s family lives – was not an easy one. But six months into the role Hilda has made some strides in identifying the key priorities for the Pacific community in the health sector. One of the most important issues for Hilda is the need for a more collaborative approach to Pacific health across the sector with community organisations and businesses. She notes that the need for this is heightened by the tough economic climate and the Ministry of Health’s strategic focus on utilising funds wisely and efficiently.
In identifying key priorities that need to be addressed in the sector, Hilda cites strength-based research as being an important and valuable tool for the Ministry.
“Strength-based research – such as the primary care research carried out by Pacific Perspectives – provides us with the basis for advice, research analysis and evidence,” asserts Hilda.
Acknowledging the complex nature of the health needs of the Pacific community, including the inter-relationship between health, education, and housing, Hilda notes the need for greater collaboration. In support of this, she is a huge advocate for the continuing development of leadership and workforce capability in the sector.
“We need a greater emphasis on supporting our people into leadership positions in the health sector and increasing their capability so that they can go on to make worthwhile decisions for our community.”
To illustrate this Hilda points to the needs of Pacific mothers and children in the sector and the ways which education and communication can make a huge difference to their health needs.
“Ensuring that mothers are capably supported throughout the phases of their pregnancy is key. We need to ensure that there is an understanding of what is being communicated and that our Pacific community have the resources they need to make appropriate decisions.”
Going forward, Hilda recognises that her biggest challenge will be being realistic about what can be achieved through her role. But she is confident that she will be able to find ways to utilise the existing structure of the Ministry to maximise the human and network resources to make progress towards effectively addressing the health needs of the Pacific community. With her passion, commitment, and drive we are sure Hilda will definitely ensure that Pacific health remains high on the agenda of the Ministry of Health. The team at Pacific Perspectives are looking forward to working with Hilda in the future.