Grantee Spotlight from Federated States of Micronesia
Bringing Health Care to the Outer Islands of the Federated States of Micronesia
The Telehealth Access Project creates an important bridge that makes health care accessible to people on the outer islands.
Dionis Saimon, Program Manager, Family Health Unit, FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs
Imagine: Your health department serves 65 inhabited islands spread across the western Pacific Ocean. Only the main islands have health care facilities with doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Travel from an outer island to a main island can take 24 hours or more by boat, and access to boats is limited.
How do you provide sustainable access to high-quality sexual and reproductive health services for residents of outer islands?
For decades, this dilemma has dogged the Federated States of Micronesia Department of Health and Social Affairs Family Planning Program (FSM FPP). But the rise of telehealth in recent years prompted the FSM FPP to launch the Title X Telehealth Access Project, which brings telehealth to the residents of eight outer island sites of the FSM.
The FSM FPP built its telehealth model around the unique constraints and assets of the outer islands. Most outer island residents live a subsistence lifestyle; many don’t have smartphones or computers, which are essential ingredients for telehealth. But every inhabited island has a small local clinic, called a dispensary, staffed by a community health worker and stocked with a computer. This setup lends itself to a hub-and-spoke model: Residents can go to their local dispensary and use telehealth to connect with medical professionals at Pohnpei State Hospital.
Even though residents can get basic health information and guidance from the community health worker, telehealth gives them access to a higher level of clinical support—like preconception health services and counseling about birth control contraindications. Community health workers can also use telehealth for consultations, including to stabilize people with acute issues until they can access in-person clinical support.
Other Title X agencies looking to implement or strengthen telehealth services can check out these RHNTC resources: