Alec Joseph Ekeroma, Sharon Biribo, Josephine Herman, Andrew Hill and Tim Kenealy
Evaluating national health research systems (NHRS) in six Pacific Island states - Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands - is a key step in determining whether their systems, infrastructure and processes are in place to effectively manage health research resources and facilitate conduct of research and its implementation.
The COHRED questionnaire used in a 2007 mapping of the Pacific Islands was utilised to survey informants from the six countries.
Fiji had a more developed NHRS followed by the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands. There was no correlation between the degree of NHRS development and population size, level of GDP or SCImago ranking for research output. All the six countries had a research structure accompanied by a satisfactory level of coordination. However, there was not always dedicated personnel assigned and there was a lack of research policies and legislation in all jurisdictions. With the exception of Fiji and the Solomon Islands, the countries had weak ethics processes and there were no monitoring and evaluation systems with the exception of Samoa.
The NHRS in six Pacific Island states vary from less developed in Vanuatu to more developed in Fiji. The development of the various components of a NHRS in small Island states is sensitive to political, funding and human resource pressures. There is room for improvement; nevertheless, there is no need in developing all the components of a NHRS in a resource-constrained setting as long as the various countries develop a Pacific solution that includes research collaborations and resource sharing with other Pacific and Pacific-rim countries.