The idea of forming PIHOA first emerged in the mid-1980s as the region's principal health officials gathered at conferences and meetings sponsored by various groups, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services Region IX office, the World Health Organization, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and others. These Pacific Executive Health Officers recognized that while they shared common health interests, problems, concerns, and history, they had no formal mechanism to come together to discuss their commonalities and working with the above groups, how they collectively could come together to work on finding appropriate regional solutions or alternatives. They realized that their Islands' changing political relationship with the United States, in addition to the development of new ties with the outside world, would present certain obstacles and challenges to their individual health systems, which would demand vigilance and a new assertiveness. They agreed that not only would uniting together provide a stronger collective voice, but through working together, this union would also enhance and energize the sharing of resource, information, and human expertise to move needed health improvements forward in their Pacific region.
The region's health Directors, Ministers, and Secretaries organized PIHOA in 1986. In 1987, the group elected its first officers, drafted its bylaws, and secured its incorporation as a public entity in the CNMI. The body selected its executive director and sought a special relationship with the University of Hawaii, School of Public Health to house its Secretariat. The thinking was that the University of Hawaii, School of Public Health would highlight the organization's visibility, while providing easier access to concerned educational and philanthropic organizations that could help with needed resources, but more importantly, the concerned policy makers in Washington, DC.
Today, PIHOA has dedicated itself to improving health in the region. It maintains an Executive Director, a HRH Coordinator, a Program Support Specialist and a Finance Officer at its Secretariat office in Honolulu that works year-round, at the direction of the PIHOA Board members. The Secretariat's assignment is fulfilling PIHOA's Mission, with its goals and objectives. Our pursuits include health policy development, knowledge dissemination, communication enhancements, health services, research, continuing health professional development, quality assurance, and cooperative networking inside and outside the Pacific Basin.