For Immediate Release

September 26, 2022

PIHOA Partners with Palau to Establish Early Warning Systems for Dengue Prevention

The Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) is partnering with the Republic of Palau’s Ministry of Health and Human Services (MHHS) to help reduce the threat of dengue. Funding support is provided by the U.S. Department of State’s cooperative agreement entitled Diminishing Dengue in the Indo-Pacific with Climate Services: Developing Predictive Models Towards a Regional Early Warning System (EWS) Against Dengue and is aligned with the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE). The project aims to use climate, demographic, and health variables to generate timely and actionable early warnings about the risk of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases.

A team of vector professionals from PIHOA, including Dr. Limb Hapairai, Regional Medical Entomologist; Dr. Tomás León, Regional Climate Sciences Consultant; Rosanna Yoon Rabago, Technical Support Consultant, and PIHOA’s Regional Communicable Disease Epidemiologist, Stephanie Kern-Allely, traveled to Palau on September 25, 2022. They will meet with island leaders, Palau MHHS managers, and key stakeholders to provide information on the EWS project implementation, including plans to conduct a community survey, address concerns, and visit potential dengue transmission sites. Meetings will be held with Palau’s Minister of Health and Human Services Gaafar Uherbelau and his team from the Bureau of Public Health, including Director Sherilynn Madraisau, Chief Calvin Johanes of the Division of Environmental Health, Epidemiologist Tmong Udui, and staff from the Vector Surveillance and Control Program. The week-long visit will also include a tour of the Belau National Hospital.

"As we anticipate more frequent and severe weather events affecting the region, we welcome this initiative, which will allow us to be more prepared and proactive in addressing vector-borne health issues in Palau," added Minister Uherbelau.

Adding valuable local expertise to the team, PIHOA is happy to announce the recruitment of Dr. Christopher Kitalong of the Pacific Academic Institute of Research (PAIR Palau) to support local project coordination and implementation. “Dr. Kitalong’s local knowledge, connections, and expertise with rigorous research and data modeling will be a critical asset to the project to enhance our support to the Palau MHHS’ epidemiology and vector teams. We are excited to have a diverse, dynamic, and committed team of experts from the Palau MHHS, PAIR Palau, and PIHOA working together to develop and implement these important predictive EWS models and tools that will enhance Palau MHHS’ ability to predict potential future outbreaks in a timely and accurate manner, and reduce negative impacts to health and well-being of Palauan communities,” said Emi Chutaro, PIHOA’s Executive Director.


About the Pacific Islands Health Officers' Association

The Pacific Islands Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) mission is to improve the health and well-being of the USAPIs by providing, through consensus, a unified credible voice on health issues of regional significance. Established in 1986, PIHOA is governed by and represents the collective interests of the USAPI health leadership from American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. 


PIHOA’s Secretariat, comprised of executive, administrative, and technical staff and consultants, provides support to the USAPI health agencies and leadership in the following priority areas: health workforce development; epidemiology and surveillance; health systems performance improvement; laboratory services; regional health leadership and policy advocacy; and, Pacific health security. PIHOA has two offices in Honolulu, Hawai’i, and Hagåtña, Guam.

Media Contacts

Billie Hiraishi

Communications Officer

[email protected]

Dr. Limb Hapairai

Regional Medical Entomologist

[email protected]