We have commented before on the impact submarine cables have on remote populations, especially islands in the Pacific region.  A recent announcement by Docomo Pacific highlights one of the most important benefits – its impact on healthcare. 

Commonwealth Health Care Corporation (CHCC) Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna can recall a time, barely three years ago, when the limited availability and prohibitively high cost of undersea cable bandwidth meant that doctors who tried to send large digital files like MRI scans to off-island experts frequently had to wait several hours -- if it worked at all.

Healthcare in the CNMI has taken a major step forward, as DOCOMO PACIFIC officially launched its "One Marianas Initiative" with a $250,000 gift to CHCC to develop and maintain an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system for patient care. This donation will allow residents of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to more easily share their treatment history, test results, and other medical information with specialists outside of Micronesia.

One of the biggest challenges we have is ensuring that we have a system that works. I want to thank DOCOMO PACIFIC for being there and presenting us with this significant contribution. The cooperation and collaboration between the government and DOCOMO really benefits us at CHCC.

Esther Muna, Chief Executive Officer of CHCC, commented, “In recent years, real-time medical consultations and remote diagnoses that depend on the power of reliable, high-speed internet have become critical, cost-effective ways of treating patients, especially those who live far from off island medical facilities. We are very happy to contribute our resources to help CHCC move forward with its mission of serving our island communities' healthcare needs.”

Dino Manning, General Manager of Docomo Pacific CNMI, said, “[The] donation to the CHCC follows last year's installment of ATISA, a state-of-the-art submarine fiber-optic cable connecting Guam with Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. To date, Docomo Pacific has invested over $26 million in ATISA, which will modernize and expand fixed and mobile networks in the CNMI.”

Docomo Pacific's One Marianas Initiative is part of a public-private partnership between DOCOMO PACIFIC and the CNMI government. For its part, the CNMI has pledged $3 million to help defray the cost of landing ATISA on Tinian and Rota.

This long-term community investment by DOCOMO PACIFIC is a tangible symbol of our commitment to our islands' future. It is also a gesture of gratitude to the CNMI's leaders in both government and private business. In particular, we want to thank former Governor Inos, Governor Ralph Torres, Lt. Governor Victor Hocog, Senate President Arnold Palacios, Senator Jude Hofschneider, Congressman Angel Demapan and Ivan Blanco, for their strong support on this journey.

Jonathan Kriegel, President and CEO of Docomo Pacific, said, “Following the installation of ATISA in June of last year, Docomo Pacific announced its commitment to the One Marianas Initiative- a five-year program of significant community investments in the areas of healthcare, education, and public safety in the CNMI. Announcements about donations to the Public School System and the Department of Public Safety will be made in the coming weeks.”