Public Health Services

The Public Health Department is concerned with improving the health of the population, rater than treating the diseases of individual patients. Primarily it focuses on prevention of diseases, protection of the population's health as well as promoting people's health

Public Health functions include:

  • Health surveillance, monitoring and analysis
  • Investigation of disease outbreaks, epidemics and risk to health
  • Establishing, designing and managing health promotion and disease prevention programmes
  • Enabling and empowering communities to promote health and reduce inequalities
  • Creating and sustaining cross-Government and inter-sectoral partnership to improve health and reduce inequalities
  • Ensuring compliance with regulation and laws to protect and promote health

Environmental Health

Environmental Health Service

The Environmental Health Service is under the Public Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services which serves to prevent and control the spread of communicable and non- communicable diseases from affecting the Kiribati nation. The EHS has ten staff and is head by the Chief Health Inspector who is reporting to and directed by the Director of Public Health. Nine staffs are looking after the Gilbert Group and stationed at the Headquarter Nawerewere and one Assistant Health Inspector is looking after the Line and Phoenix Group and stationed in Xmas Island.

Safe Water

One of the core activities of the Environmental Health Unit is to ensure that the people of Kiribati have access to safe drinking water and uncontaminated sea foods. The Environmental Health Unit is responsible for monitoring the quality of the four types of water that are available in Kiribati like well water, rain water, PUB reticulated water, ocean water and lagoon water. The staff of the Environmental Health Services samples and tests each of the above water sources once every 8 weeks from the specified established sites. They perform physical test (Ph, Conductivity, Dissolved Oxygen, Salinity, Turbidity, Temperature), Chemical test (nitrate/nitrite, chlorine, lead) on site or at the mini lab while micro-biological testing (Coliform and Faecal Coliform) is done in the Microbiology Lab at Betio Hospital by the Lab staff. 

Requests from the public for testing of their drinking water sources are also entertained. The request must be made to the Environmental Health Unit at Nawerewere in person or ring the Environmental Health Officers at phone 28100 ext. 212 or 221.

Food Safety

All food establishments (Food shops, restaurants, food hawkers, fish vendors etc) who are processing foods intended for sale or who are selling processed and frozen foods are inspected for licensing and also inspected regularly while in operation by the Area Environmental Health Officer. Food Handlers during the licensing process must undergo medical examination prior they are allowed to process and sell foods items to the members of the public. In executing their duties related to food items EHOs are wearing their hats as Food Inspectors specified in the Food Safety Act 2006. They have powers to carry out their inspections at any reasonable time, seize food items that can cause harm or injurious to the health of the people. Food items that can be seized or disposed off by the Court order include adulterated foods, expired food items, rusted through or blown or badly dented canned or tinned foods, change of texture, discolored & weevil infested flour, rice and sugar, labeling of foods in languages other than Kiribati and/or English etc.

The members of the public are very much encouraged to report to the Environmental Health Office any complaints that are all related to food items intended for sale. You can reach us on the number indicated above, however you are most welcome to come in person with the unsound or unwholesome food items so that investigation may follow suit.

Vector control

The control of vectors that can spread diseases to human is also under the responsibility of the EHOs. Flies, Mosquitoes, cockroaches and rats are the predominant vectors of public health importance. The sustainable method to control these vectors is by keeping and maintaining your homes and compound very clean to get rid and deprive these vectors of their homes and foods. All water containers must be closed or properly screened for mosquito control. Because of its environmental implications aerial insect spraying is considered to be the last resort in times of diseases outbreak related to these vectors with the exception of rats. The EHOs and Agricultural Quarantine are working together in prevention of diseases pests from coming from abroad by doing quarantine duties at the port and airport of entry.


Proper disposal of human and animal excreta is conducive to clean environment and thus prevention & control of excreta borne diseases particularly diarrhea and typhoid diseases. The Environmental Health Office is always advocating and now providing on site disposal method – water seal latrine to members of the public who are residing in non sewerage areas.  The office is providing cement gooseneck and gives advice on the site for such method. The EHOs may assist the members of the public if there is a need on the construction of water seal latrine. They also provide assistance for the proper site and construction of septic tank.

If you need assistance in this regard please ring the number indicated above or come in person to our office located at Nawerewere Hospital in the Administration block.

Environmental Health Documents


Nutrition Overview

The recent establishment of the National Nutrition Centre, with an additional staff member, has enabled the Government to carry out more activities related to nutrition. The lack of baseline data for most nutritional problems, as well as the absence of standardized methods and systems for assessing and monitoring nutritional status, are major constraints.


A Nutrition Policy was drafted in 1992 and reviewed in 1995. The National Nutrition Policy and Plan of Action (1997- 2001) was drafted in 1997, and was approved by Cabinet in 1998. The Kiribati National Food and Nutrition Committee, an intersectoral body, was set up in 1982 and was involved in drafting the Nutrition Policy and the Plan of Action. The Committee has the task of reviewing the National Nutrition Policy and also has responsibility for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Plan of Action. Dietary Guidelines were launched in 1998.

Breast-feeding policies

There is a National Breast-feeding Policy, which has been approved as part of the National Food and Nutrition Policy. However, none of the hospitals with maternity facilities have been awarded baby-friendly status.
The National Breast-feeding Policy includes provisions of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Efforts have been made to make the Code part of national legislation.
Community activities, together with media campaigns, are planned several times a year. Information materials are distributed to mothers.
A third of women participate in the paid labour force. There are 12 weeks of maternity leave in the public sector, fully paid for the first two births only. Maternity leave can only be taken six weeks prior to delivery and six weeks after delivery. (Any week not taken prior to delivery cannot be counted as part of after-delivery leave.)

Monitoring and surveillance of nutritional status

The National Nutrition Centre of the Ministry of Health plays a key role in monitoring and surveillance of nutritional status. However, there is no standardized system in place to monitor nutritional status and assess breast-feeding and infant-feeding practices. Vitamin A deficiency cases are recorded on monthly statistics forms. Child growth is monitored in the under-5 clinics.

Intervention programmes

The National Nutrition Centre undertakes intervention programmes. Community awareness, through nutrition education programmes, is used to improve nutrition in pregnancy, obesity, nutritional anaemia and vitamin A deficiency, and topromote baby-friendly hospitals.
Nongovernmental organizations, such as the Foundation for the People of the South Pacific, have also contributed to nutrition education in the community. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the nutrition education programmes in schools.

Health Promotion

The unit has the overall role of coordinating the planning and implementation of different projects to promote Health. It does so by working in very close to collaboration with the various other units within the Ministry as well as other external stakeholders to promote the health and well being of the Kiribati people.

The unit also advise and support all units within the Ministry to develop Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials as per priority health issues.

Click here to download all available Information Education Communication (IEC) materials produced from this Division.



  • Reproductive Health
  • Tobacco Control
  • Non-Commuicable Disease
  • Leprosy Control
  • TB (Dots)
  • EPI
  • IMCI (Integrated Management of Child Illness)
    • The IMCI program is an approach to improve the management of sick children less than five years of age. The development of the program is a joint effort of the World Health organisation (WHO) and Unicef and implemented as one of the Regional Child Survival Strategies (RCSS) to address the Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4: Reduced child mortality by 2/3, between 1990 and 2015, the under five mortality rate). The high morbidity and mortality rates in Children less than five year of age is one of the global issues, especially in developing countries like Kiribati
    • Objectives of IMCI are
      • To reduce significantly global mortality and morbidity associated with the major causes of diseases in children
      • To contribute to healthy growth and development of Children