Advocating for healthier lifestyles is Pugeva’s passion

Barry Mataisau Pugeva set out to pursue tertiary studies that would enable him to play a critical role in the promotion of health, prevention of diseases, prolonging life and the empowerment of individuals and communities in managing their health through education, policy making and research for disease and injury prevention.

The Solomon Islander diligently completed his high school studies at the Betikama Adventist College in East Honiara, Guadalcanal Province before researching tertiary-level study opportunities available to him.

“I have always been passionate about public health and health promotion and being in a field that allowed me to work with communities, across different sectors and emphasise the proactive and simple but effective measures they could take in maintaining their health and wellbeing,” Pugeva said.

“This was the main reason why I decided to study public health and health promotion and I figured that the Fiji National University (FNU) was the only viable option for me as it had programmes that aligned with my career interests.”

This was the beginning of Pugeva’s academic journey at FNU’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences’ (CMNHS) undertaking the Bachelor of Public Health (Health Promotion) programme.

“I fondly recall having a great student life experience at FNU,” he shared. “During my studies, I forged lifelong networks and friends with colleagues from various parts of the Pacific region and Tamavua Campus was my home away from home for three years.”

“Having stayed on campus as a hostel student, I thoroughly enjoyed the College’s annual welcome functions, picnics and other social and student events as it gave me the opportunity to meet fellow students and academic and support staff.”

Pugeva also took up several student leadership roles whilst at the College and this ranged from being class representative to senior resident lead of the Tamavua Campus.

In 2019, Pugeva graduated with his degree and also received the Dean’s Honour Award for academic excellence.

“The qualification and recognition from FNU boosted my career prospects in the profession and certainly enhances my competencies and capability to deliver on my roles and responsibilities,” he said.

“As an FNU alumnus, I have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies that are complemented by my student life experience and these give me an edge in securing prestigious opportunities both in employment and education.”

After serving in various part-time, research and student leadership roles, Pugeva began his career as Managing Director of RM Metal Recycling Trading Limited in Honiara before becoming a Senior Health Promotion Officer with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services in 2014.

“As part of my role, I was responsible for consulting and assist in the formation of the provincial policies and guidelines strategies on health promotions,” he explained.

“I also prepared operational plans and budgets for the health promotion division at provincial and community levels and coordinated community setting profiling in collaboration with health workers and health committees at the village level.”

Pugeva said he also coordinated training with communities and stakeholders.

Currently, he is the president for Avaiki Rugby Club, a local championship rugby club in his home country where he volunteered his expertise to promote health through sports.

In January last year, Pugeva began work in his current role as the COMBAT-AMR Project Coordinator (Solomon Islands).

The project seeks to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Pacific Island countries.

“I am the in-country focal point and support the implementation of the COMBAT-AMR Project in collaboration with project managers at the Burnet Institute, the Project Technical Steering Committee, senior executives from the Ministry of Health, National Referal hospital, National medical Stores, other health development partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and partners in the region and country,” he said.

Pugeva’s work is linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 3 on ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing at all ages.

Pugeva was quick to highlight that his parents and family were a great support system that invested in his success from the start of his studies.

“I also credit the Almighty and acknowledge my parents for believing in me, for respecting my choices in life and for giving me the freedom to think independently.”

Words of Wisdom
“To the current students of FNU, believe in yourself and always strive for excellence,” Pugeva said.

“If you encounter challenges in your studies or personal life, always reach out to your families, friends, and counselling services available at the University. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your mistakes or ask for help.”

“I also strongly recommend that students get involved in volunteer and community work.”

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