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April 20, 2023

Pacific Island Hospitals: Improving Critical Infrastructure Resilience

Aerial image of buildings near water that are labeled as "National Referral Hospital, Honiara, Solomon Islands"

The United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) Loss and Damage Fund agreement was a celebrated win for Pacific Island countries (PICs), which are one of the most at-risk regions worldwide due to being subject to regular extreme weather events. Adaptation funding has not adequately addressed preventing risk and loss. In 2016, the World Risk Report defined critical infrastructure as essential adaptation to address in order to reduce both human and economic losses due to risk vulnerability. The sectors that make up critical infrastructure include “health,” which straddles two adaptation sectors: hardscape infrastructure, which includes hospitals, and conventional health delivery. Hospitals have historically been seen as investments in health. Vulnerable Pacific Island hospitals that lack the luxury of redundancy in services while serving populations of people living on atolls and isolated islands need to be seen as critical infrastructure.

In this presentation, Dr. Eileen Natuzzi shared analysis of 78 hospitals located in 14 Pacific Island countries conducted through the lens of climate change critical infrastructure adaptation.

This event was sponsored by the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies and the Global Health Institute at Georgetown University.


Dr. Eileen Natuzzi, M.D., MPH, draws on over 18 years of experience of building capacity in Solomon Islands health care. She received her medical degree from George Washington University, did her surgical training at the University of California San Francisco, and obtained her master in public health degree in epidemiology from San Diego State University. She currently serves as Solomon Islands’ co-coordinator for the Australia New Zealand Gastrointestinal International Training Association (ANZGITA) and is a visiting staff member at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara, Guadalcanal. The ANZGITA program, along with the doctors and nurses at the NRH, established the first endoscopy service for the country that is now defining the prevalence and epidemiology of gastrointestinal diseases the people of Solomon Islands suffer from. Dr. Natuzzi’s main focus is on the health impacts from climate change, in particular extreme weather events in urban Pacific Island environments. She actively advocates for health system infrastructure development aid as a means to reduce risk and harms from extreme weather events. Dr. Natuzzi has published a number of papers on health and climate change in Solomon Islands as well as editorials on issues pertinent to geopolitical events in the Hill, Diplomat, DevPolicy, and Griffith University’s Pacific Outlook and Global Health Governance, in addition to publishing in medical journals.