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MOU sees ESR and Kiribati join forces to seek science solutions

12 February 2024

Pacific strategy
Peter Lennox Kiribati MOU
Peter Lennox Kiribati MOU

ESR’s commitment to using science and research to support our Pacific neighbours prepare for a changing climate took a step further today, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Kiribati’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The MoU helps pave the way for research projects aiming to improve outcomes in key health areas that the Ministry has identified as most important for their communities, such as antimicrobial resistance, water quality and addressing unacceptably high morbidity and mortality from the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. 

The signing builds on a long history for ESR of supporting Kiribati, an island nation facing particular threats due to rising sea levels.

Past research, funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has addressed water quality, sanitation and hygiene, exploring questions such as the effectiveness of the island’s coral sand in removing micro-organisms from septic tank wastewater systems.

ESR's forensic team will also meet with a representative from the Kiribati Police Service who is accompanying the MHMS delegation to explore how ESR's expertise can support their work.

Recently, ESR was honoured to be invited to Kiribati’s Health Sector Coordination Committee Meeting, highlighting shared priorities in areas including climate change and health, infectious disease testing and surveillance, and health digitisation.

Kiribati Minister of Health and Medical Services Hon Dr Tinte Itinteang says that capacity building is a cornerstone of this collaboration.

“We envision a future where our healthcare and police professionals have access to cutting edge training and knowledge transfer programs facilitated by ESR.”

ESR Chief Executive Peter Lennox says the MOU speaks to his firm belief in the importance of working together to address global challenges that matter to us all.

“We are very much of the mindset that a safe, sustainable, healthy and prosperous Pacific benefits all of Aotearoa New Zealand. Responding to challenges like climate change require all hands to the deck – including science expertise, political leaders and local communities. It’s by drawing on our complementary expertise and experiences that we can ensure that any research we undertake together will benefit communities directly.

“We are honoured to be working with our Pacific neighbours on these huge questions and challenges that are not of their making, but that impact their communities profoundly.”