• Offered by Department of Pacific Affairs
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Pacific Studies
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Development Studies, Health Medicine and the Body, Policy Studies, Pacific Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Colin Wiltshire
    • Dr Roannie Ng Shiu
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings
Pacific Health Challenges and Strategies: Politics, Culture and Development (PASI8004)

Health in the Pacific, and health of Pacific peoples, is a critical development concern for Pacific island governments, communities, and aid agencies, including Australia and the World Health Organization. This course examines health challenges as well as policy responses at the local, national, regional and global level. Drawing on SSGM’s expertise in Pacific societies and systems, and our training in political science, development studies, anthropology, population health, and indigenous health, this course is able to provide in-depth investigation of critical health issues in Pacific Island Countries. We begin by introducing approaches to health and health systems in the Pacific, then move through weekly country-specific case studies. Examples of case studies will include population politics, gender dimensions of health, HIV/AIDS, Non-communicable diseases, mental health challenges and substances, climate change and food security. In each case we ask what are the key contributors, what policies are trying to address these challenges, and how do culture, development and politics shape health challenges and responses. This course is ideal for students and/or practitioners who wish to better understand the critical health challenges in the Pacific including from policy, development, cultural, and governance perspectives. Those who currently work in the Pacific or wish to do so will benefit from detailed examination and understanding of major health issues and responses, while those students who are studying health will access unique Pacific content and case studies. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

1. Identify and understand key aspects of Pacific Health Status and Trends (statistics, reliability of data, health transitions, in the region and Pacific migrant communities)
2. Analyse critical contemporary challenges in Pacific health, including policy responses and interventions
3.Identify different approaches to health (SDH, Public Health, Epidemiology, Pacific worldviews – culture, religion, spirituality) and apply this to case studies from the Pacific
4. Evaluate Australia's role in promoting health in the region
5. Demonstrate advanced skills in critical reading, thinking, writing, discussion and public presentation.

Indicative Assessment

1. Class Participation (10%) Students comprehension and engagement with the lecture and reading material demonstrated by participation in discussions (online or in class).

2. Concept Review (30%): Students are asked to select a key concept or theme relevant to Pacific Health from a list of examples and provide a 1,500 word explanation of the concept, drawing on relevant literature. This assessment will be due in Week 6 of the course.

3. Case Study: Country-Specific Case Study of a Health Challenge
Part 1: In-class Briefing (10%)
Part 2: Written case study (50%) 5,000 words including references
- What is the key health issue?
- What are the underlying factors contributing to it?
- What are possible policy, strategies and solutions?
-What role has or might Australia have in addressing this challenge?
-What further research is needed?

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


100 hours: 36 contact hours, 64 hours of library/online work.

Prescribed Texts

Each week students will have three or four required readings and additional supplementary readings.
The interdisciplinary nature of the course requires the use of several books and articles rather than a specific text book, and an indicative list of readings is provided.

Preliminary Reading

Each week students will have two required readings and additional supplementary readings.

The interdisciplinary nature of the course requires the use of several books and articles rather than a specific text book, and an indicative list of readings is given below:

Tamasese, K., Peteru, C., Waldegrave, C., & Bush, A. (2005). Ole Taeao Afua, the new morning: a qualitative investigation into Samoan perspectives on mental health and culturally appropriate services. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 39(4), 300-309.

Hamelin, C., Salomon, C., Sitta, R., Gueguen, A., Cyr, D., & Lert, F. (2009). Childhood sexual abuse and adult binge drinking among Kanak women in New Caledonia. Social science & medicine, 68(7), 1247-1253.

Capstick, S., Norris, P., Sopoaga, F., & Tobata, W. (2009). Relationships between health and culture in Polynesia–A review. Social Science & Medicine, 68(7), 1341-1348.

Palafox, N. A. (2010). Health consequences of the Pacific US nuclear weapons testing program in the Marshall Islands: inequity in protection, health care access, policy, regulation. Reviews on environmental health, 25(1), 81-85.

Tukuitonga, C. (2015)  Access to Health Services by Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific Region. In United Nations (Ed.) State of the World's Indigenous Peoples, Volume II (pp. 130-157). New York.

Rylko-Bauer, B. and P. Farmer. 2016. Structural Violence, Poverty and Social suffering. The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Poverty edited by David Brady, Linda M. Burton. 47-76. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rudge, J. W., Phuanakoonon, S., Nema, K. H., Mounier-Jack, S., & Coker, R. 2010. Critical interactions between Global Fund-supported programmes and health systems: a case study in Papua New Guinea. Health Policy and Planning, 25(suppl 1), i48-i52.

Campos-Outcalt, D., Kewa, K., & Thomason, J. 1995. Decentralization of health services in Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea: an attempt to administer health service at the subdistrict level. Social science & medicine, 40(8), 1091-1098.

Stephen Howes, Andrew Anton Mako, Anthony Swan, Grant Walton, Thomas Webster and Colin Wiltshire (2014) A lost decade? Service delivery and reforms in Papua New Guinea 2002-2012

Colin Wiltshire and Andrew Mako (2014). Financing PNG’s free primary health care policy: user fees, funding and performance.

WHO. 2002. World Report on Violence and Health. CHAPTER 1. VIOLENCE --- A GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM.

Seedat, M., Van Niekerk, A., Jewkes, R., Suffla, S., & Ratele, K. 2009. Violence and injuries in South Africa: prioritising an agenda for prevention. The Lancet, 374(9694), 1011-1022.

Garcia-Moreno, C., Jansen, H. A., Ellsberg, M., Heise, L., & Watts, C. H. 2006. Prevalence of intimate partner violence: findings from the WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence. The Lancet, 368(9543), 1260-1269.

Dernbach, K. B. and M. Marshall 2001. Pouring Beer on Troubled Waters: Alcohol and Violence in the Papua New Guinea Highlands During the 1980s. Contemporary Drug Problems 28(1):3-47.

Kelly, Angela, B. Mathers, and Andrew Vallely. 2012. Emerging HIV Risk in Papua New Guinea. Goroka: Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research and Sydney: University of New South Wales. pp 9-31 on alcohol.

Butt, L., & Eves, R. 2008. Making sense of AIDS: Culture, sexuality, and power in Melanesia. University of Hawaii Press.

Eves, R. 2012. Resisting Global AIDS Knowledges: Born-Again Christian Narratives of the Epidemic from Papua New Guinea. Medical Anthropology 31(1):61–76.

Munro, J. and L. McIntyre. 2016. (Not) Getting Political: Indigenous Women and Preventing Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV in West Papua. Culture, Health and Sexuality 18 (2): 156-70.

Lepani, K. 2008. Mobility, violence and the gendering of HIV in Papua New Guinea. The Australian ournal of Anthropology, 19(2), 150.

Eves R., 2015. Marie Stopes, Family Planning and Genocide in Bougainville. SSGM In Brief 2015/68. Canberra: ANU.

Munro, J. 2014. Papuan Perspectives on Family Planning, Fertility and Birth Control. SSGM Discussion Paper 2014/7. Canberra: Australian National University.

Anderson, I., Crengle, S., Kamaka, M. L., Chen, T. H., Palafox, N., & Jackson-Pulver, L. 2006. Indigenous health in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. The Lancet, 367(9524), 1775-1785.

Tuitama, L. T., Young-soo, S., Clark, H., Tukuitonga, C., & Beaglehole, R. (2014). Acting on the Pacific crisis in non-communicable diseases. The Lancet, 384(9957), 1823-1824.

Siefken, K., Schofield, G., & Schulenkorf, N. (2014). Laefstael jenses: An investigation of barriers and facilitators for healthy lifestyles of women in an urban Pacific island context. J Phys Act Health, 11(1), 30-37.

Magnusson, R. S., & Patterson, D. (2015). How Can We Strengthen Governance of Non-communicable Diseases in Pacific Island Countries and Territories?. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 2(2), 293-309.

Mannava, P., Abdullah, A., James, C., Dodd, R., & Annear, P. L. (2015). Health Systems and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Asia-Pacific Region A Review of the Published Literature. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, 27(2), NP1-NP19.

Snowdon, W., & Thow, A. M. (2013). Trade policy and obesity prevention: challenges and innovation in the Pacific Islands. obesity reviews, 14(S2), 150-158.

Plahe, J. K., Hawkes, S., & Ponnamperuma, S. (2013). The corporate food regime and food sovereignty in the Pacific Islands. the contemporary pacific, 25(2), 309-338.

Foale, S., Adhuri, D., Aliño, P., Allison, E. H., Andrew, N., Cohen, P., ... & Stacey, N. (2013). Food security and the Coral Triangle initiative. Marine Policy, 38, 174-183.

Denoon, Donald, with Kathleen Dugan and Leslie Marshall 1989 Public Health in Papua New Guinea, 1884-1984: Medical Possibility and Social Constraint. Cambridge.

Husna Razee, Maxine Whittaker, Rohan Jayasuriya, Lorraine Yap, Lee Brentnall 2012 Listening to the Rural Health Workers in Papua New Guinea – The social Factors that Influence their Motivation to Work. Social Science & Medicine 75(5): 828-835.

MacKay, J & Lepani, K 2010, Health system strengthening in Papua New Guinea: exploring the role of demand-responsive mechanisms, Lowy Institute Analysis Paper, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney.

MacKay, J & Lepani, K 2010, Revitalising Papua New Guinea's health system: the need for creative approaches, Lowy Institute Policy Brief, Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney.

Dugue, Maryse and John Izard 2003 Moving Toward a Sector-Wide Approach: Papua New Guinea The Health Sector Development Program Experience.

MAXINE WHITTAKER, LINDSAY PILIWAS, JUBAL AGALE AND JESSICA YAIPUPU 2009 Beyond the numbers: Papua New Guinean perspectives on the major health conditions and programs of the country. PNG Medical Journal 52(3-4):

Day, Benjamin 2009 The primacy of politics: charting the governance of the Papua New Guinea health system since Independence.  PNG Medical Journal 52(3-4):

Hinton, Rachael and Jaya Earnest 2011 Assessing women's understandings of health in rural Papua New Guinea: Implications for health policy and practice. Asia Pacific Viewpoint
52(2): 178–193.

Vaughan, Cathy 2010 “When the road is full of potholes, I wonder why they are bringing condoms?” Social spaces for understanding young Papua New Guineans' health-related knowledge and health-promoting action. AIDS Care 22(Issue S2): 1644-1651.

Rudge, James W., Suparat Phuanakoonon, K Henry Nema, Sandra Mounier-Jack and Richard Coker 2010 Critical interactions between Global Fund-supported programmes and health systems: a case study in Papua New Guinea.  Health Policy Planning 25(suppl 1): i48-i52.

Hinton, Rachael and Jaya Earnest 2010 The right to health: Overcoming inequalities and barriers to women's health in Papua New Guinea. Women's Studies International Forum 33: 180–187.

Thomason, J. A., Newbrander, W. C., & Kolehmainen-Aitken, R. L. 1991 Decentralization in a developing country: the experience of Papua New Guinea and its health service. National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National University.

Newbrander, W.C. and Thomason, J.A., 1989. Alternatives for financing health services in Papua New Guinea. Health Policy and Planning, 4(2), pp.131-140.

Kim, J.Y., Farmer, P. and Porter, M.E., 2013. Redefining global health-care delivery. The Lancet, 382(9897), pp.1060-1069.

Robinson, M., 2007. Does decentralisation improve equity and efficiency in public service delivery provision? IDS bulletin, 38(1), pp.7-17.

Filmer, D. and Pritchett, L., 1999. The impact of public spending on health: does money matter?. Social science & medicine, 49(10), pp.1309-1323.
Filmer, D., Hammer, J.S. and Pritchett, L.H., 2002. Weak links in the chain II: a prescription for health policy in poor countries. The World Bank Research Observer, 17(1), pp.47-66.


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Student Contribution Band:
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6.00 0.12500
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2018 $3180
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Year Fee
2018 $4860
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Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9958 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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