Preparing the Future Public Health Workforce in the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands


The new Pacific Public Health Fellowship Program prepares the future workforce for a career in public health while helping the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands respond to their unique public health challenges.

May 10, 2022

Spanning 5 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean—an area approximately 1.5 times the size of the United States—and far away from the US mainland, lie the 6 US-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI).

US Pacific Island Territories
US Freely Associated States
American Samoa
Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas
Federated States of Micronesia
Republic of the Marshall Islands
Republic of Palau

These remote regions face unique public health challenges―often at the same time―such as increasing impacts of climate change, natural disasters (including typhoons), and emerging, outbreak-prone diseases like dengue, Zika, and COVID-19.

First Graduates of the PPHFP Pilot Program

LaDonna Engichy -- 2020 Pacific Public Health Fellow

Gizelle Kwon, 2020 Pacific Public Health Fellow

To help build capacity of the USAPI public health agencies and organizations to effectively address these public health issues, the Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOAexternal icon) and CDC collaborated to create the Pacific Public Health Fellowship Program (PPHFP)external icon.

PPHFP is an innovative, two-year fellowship program that places recent graduates and early-career professionals in health departments in the USAPI, where they get frontline experience, hands-on training, skill-building opportunities, and competency development to prepare them for their careers in public health.

In turn, the fellows help the USAPI health departments better respond to critical emerging and ongoing public health challenges in the Pacific while gaining exposure to multiple disciplines in public health practice, health advocacy, leadership, and policy.

Two fellows graduated from the pilot program and are continuing their public health careers in the USAPI. The second cohort had 3 fellows, and for the next cohort, PPHFP aims to expand to 12 fellows.

For more information, contact PIHOAexternal icon.

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Disclaimer: Field Notes is designed to spotlight success and innovation in state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) health agencies. It is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) effort to highlight what is happening on the front lines of public health. The information in Field Notes is provided by STLT agencies external to CDC. Provision of this information is for informational purposes and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement, recommendation, and/or represent the views of CDC.

Page last reviewed: June 1, 2022