WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has directed the Office of Insular Affairs to authorize a partial funding amount of $721,320, to the Ministry of Health in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) for the Four Atoll Health Care Program for the people of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok. The Secretary is concerned about the threat to the continuity of services under this program.
"The Marshall Islands played an important role in American and world history, and remains a key component of our military readiness in the Pacific," said Secretary Zinke. "Looking after the health and wellness of our extended American family is a key component of upholding commitments to one another."
“We look to Congress to help us meet these important commitments on behalf of the U.S. Government for the people of Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Originally funded under the first Compact of Free Association, these services are now provided through the discretionary Technical Assistance Program and require Congressional authorization and appropriation every year.”
Through the Four Atoll Health Care Program, health care services and overall wellness programs are provided for over 18,000 people from the four nuclear-affected atolls in the Marshall Islands. The program covers dental services, women’s health and cancer screening, diabetes screening and control, eye services in collaboration with the Canvas Back Eye Mission, immunization coverage, reduction of infant mortality, and surveillance of tuberculosis and leprosy. The total requested for FY18 is $1.4 million.
The Four Atoll Health Care Program provides basic health services for people from the four atolls in the Marshall Islands impacted by the nuclear weapons testing program which the U.S. Department of Defense carried out in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958.
The Assistant Secretary of the Interior, on behalf of the Secretary, is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided under the Compacts of Free Association to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The Office of Insular Affairs promotes policies and distributes grants under the direction of the Assistant Secretary who strives to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.