Wednesday, July 26, 2023

IMEA: To Pay the Price: The Case for Investing in the Future of COFA Now!

 IMEA: To Pay the Price: The Case for Investing in the Future of COFA Now!


πŸ’­ I. Imagine...

Cultivating new and vibrant sustainment partnerships via stakeholder collaborations in the Compact of Free Association (COFA) Nations with entities such as the Hawaii National Guard, the State of Hawaii Department of Health, DOD, the University of Hawaii, and the VA 🌍

II. Imagined Endstate:

Imagine a future where Micronesians have access to essential healthcare services and a supportive system that recognizes and maximizes their organic community assets. Through strategic engagements, research, and developing community-based assets collaborative partnerships and engagements could empower the region to further its resiliency and thrive.

III.πŸ’₯ What's the Case:

The COFA nations are facing a convergence of critical challenges, and an international transformative and all-encompassing approach to investing in their future becomes imperative. These nations find themselves at the crossroads of an existential climate crisis, grappling with extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. Despite their rich cultural heritage and resilience, they rank among the poorest per capita nations in the world, confronting economic disparities that hinder their growth and development. Furthermore, the geographic separation from the United States has left many Micronesian veterans unseen, and deprived of the care they are entitled to as US veterans. Finally, there is a historical indebtedness by the countries who conducted atomic testing for over a decade, they hold some accountability for the aftermath effect on the region's vulnerable population.

πŸ”Ž IV. Consider This:

Challenges Faced by Micronesian Veterans: Micronesian veterans encounter numerous obstacles in accessing healthcare despite their dedicated service. The limited capacity in U.S. military hospitals in Hawaii often leaves many veterans without the medical attention they deserve. Additionally, the high cost of healthcare and complexities surrounding health insurance further hinder their access to essential medications and treatments, adding to the burden they bear after serving their nation. (Blair, 2017)

🌊 Impacts of Climate Change: The adverse impacts of climate change pose significant threats to vulnerable island states like the COFA nations. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and environmental degradation are some of the challenges these nations face, putting their very existence at risk. (Rasmussen, 2022)

Health Disparities in Hawaii: A study by the East-West Center showed that Micronesians had significantly worse Severity of Illness (SOI) for various health-related hospitalizations, emphasizing the need for support to address disparities (Hagiwara, 2016)

πŸ“ˆ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reported more than $1 billion in costs associated with providing service to Micronesians for Hawaii and adjoining Pacific U.S. Territories (Rights, 2019)

πŸ’ͺ SPP's Role in Theater Security: The State Partnership Program (SPP) plays a crucial role in bolstering theater security and stability in the Pacific region. The SPP's efforts in building partnerships can serve as a strategic counterbalance to their growing influence and help ensure the long-term stability and development of the COFA nations (Rimando, 2023).

πŸ“š V. Research This:

          1. Garamone, J. (2023). Economic Cooperation and the State Partnership Program.
          2. Blair, C. (March 1, 2017). Lawmakers Urge Medical Help For Micronesian Veterans. Civil Beat.
          3. Brewington, L., Kokame, K., & Lewis, N. (2021). Global Health Engagement in the Pacific Region.
          4. Hagiwara, M. K. (2016). Healthcare Disparities Among Micronesian Veterans.
          5. United States Commission on Civil Rights. (2019).
          6. Rasmussen, E., Nakano, G., Kabua, S., & Hatoum, A. (2022). Climate-Focused Field Research within the Kwajalein Atoll Sustainability Laboratory.
          7. IMSPARK: Communities Combat Climate Crisis, July 25, 2023, Imagine Pacific Pulse
          8. IMEA: Imagine Pacific Envision Analysis - Healthcare for Micronesian Veterans, June 30, 2023, Imagine Pacific Pulse
          9. IMSPARK: Imagine Equal Care for COFA, June 26, 2023, Imagine Pacific Pulse
          10. IMOA: SPP and COFA, Match Made in the Pacific, July 24, 2023, Rimando, M., Imagine Pacific Pulse

🌍 VI. Impact on Pacific:

Here are the following impacts partnerships and engagements could provide if pursued:

        1. Pacific Region Stability: As near-peer competitor nations expand their influence in the Pacific, it becomes increasingly vital for the United States to strategically prioritize its engagement with COFA countries. The SPP's proactive efforts in building and strengthening partnerships can serve as an essential counterbalance, preserving the sovereignty and security of the region. By fostering enduring relationships, the SPP facilitates an environment where COFA nations can confidently navigate diplomatic complexities and maintain their independence in a changing geopolitical landscape.
        2. Climate Change Adaptation: Vulnerable island states, such as the COFA nations, face unprecedented challenges from the adverse impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and environmental degradation pose significant threats to their very existence. Organizations like the Kwajalein Atoll Sustainment Laboratory (KASL) and the University of Hawaii could foster focus on environmental protection and sustainability, serving as a valuable resource, and facilitating knowledge sharing and technical assistance.
        3. Infrastructural Development: The COFA nations' economic vulnerability necessitates international support and cooperation for sustainable development. Through a program like the SPP, the National Guard could offer expertise and resources in critical areas such as disaster response, healthcare, education, and organizational capacity building. In leveraging the resources and experiences of both the National Guard and partner organizations like the Department of Health, and Emergency Management Agency, strategic partnerships become vehicles to unlock potential, facilitate growth, reduce dependence, and foster sustainable progress in the Pacific.
        4. Reduce Healthcare Disparities: Global health engagements hold promise for addressing healthcare disparities in the COFA nations. By tapping into the National Guard's and University of Hawaii's expertise in both the medical logistical and telehealth, through medical engagements they could contribute to enhancing Micronesia's preparedness and response mechanisms. Specifically, efforts to mitigate the Severity of Illness (SOI) for various health-related hospitalizations in Micronesia through the SPP can lead to a more equitable and robust healthcare system.

πŸ“Š VII. QR Reader Survey: 

To better understand the challenges faced by Micronesian veterans and work towards viable solutions, we invite readers to participate in our QR Reader Survey. Your valuable insights and experiences will help us better understand the issues at hand. Please note that participation in the survey is voluntary and for the purpose of gaining a general assessment of the reader's impression of the IMEA. It is not intended for scientific purposes.


 πŸ“’ VII. Call to Action: 

Imagine Pacific is in support of the COFA Veterans and asks that readers who feel the same consider joining us in advocating for justice and equal access to healthcare for Micronesian veterans. You can support this cause by: 

• Leaving a comment on the Imagine Pacific Pulse(www.imagine-pacific.blogspot.com

• Sending a letter to the Editor: https://www.staradvertiser.com/editorial/submit-letter/ 

• Reaching out to your local representatives and urging them to support legislation 

• Raising awareness about this issue within your social circles and utilizing the provided QR codes to share this IMEA.

🀝 VIII. Conclusion: 

Investing in the future of COFA nations requires transformative efforts encompassing equitable healthcare access, economic development, climate change resilience, and recognition of historical consequences. Partnerships contribute to Pacific stability amid geopolitical competition, empowering COFA nations to preserve sovereignty. Addressing healthcare disparities, climate change adaptation, and infrastructural development are vital. Collaborative efforts unlock potential, ensuring the well-being of COFA communities and fostering resilience. Let's work towards a thriving COFA future, accessible resources, and a model of sustainability for the world.


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