Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth)

Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth) was established by the Health Promotion Foundation Act 2007. It is an autonomous body that is accountable to the Government of Tonga through the Minister of Health. An appointment committee in which the Minister of Health chair appoint the members of the governance board and one to be chairman of the governance board. The governing body consists of five representatives, one from each sector comprising community churches, the legislative assembly, business and management, and the health. They are responsible for setting the agenda, policies and fund management of the foundation as well as appointment of the Chief Executive Officer who oversees the overall management of the foundation. TongaHealth commenced operations in May 2009.

Strengthening the understanding of health promotion through developing effective strategic partnerships, advocating for healthy lifestyle policies and legislation in all settings, managing grant and sponsorship programmes as well as strengthening existing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) research to prevent and reduce harm from NCDs for a healthy Tonga where everyone is responsible for promoting health and everyone shares in the benefits of a healthy population is the main objective for TongaHealth.

As part of the capacity development and technical support for both staff and board members, they received mentoring support from VicHealth’s representative to empower them to plan, develop and implement health promotion programmes. The four priority areas in the National NCD strategies were to reduce harm from tobacco and alcohol consumption, promote healthy eating and physical activity. The principal strategy involved supporting and facilitating partner organizations to undertake health promotion activities. Being the first health promotion foundation to be established in the Pacific Islands, TongaHealth plays a crucial role in promoting health to all levels of society to reduce the health risks of NCDs in line with Tonga’s national NCD prevention strategy. TongaHealth has recently finalised its 5th National NCD Strategies awaiting cabinet approval namely ‘Tuiaki I he Amanaki ki ha Tonga Mo’uilelei (persevering together through the crisis to a healthier Tonga) – Tonga National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2021-2025”. This strategy acknowledges gaps, thereby presenting opportunities for improvement through empowerment of the collective and adopting a shared purpose. In contrast to previous strategies, the Tuiaki strategy takes a systems-approach to address NCDs, it considers the underlying social, economic, cultural, political and environmental factors, their interactions, consequences and how they impact health outcomes in a systematic way.

TongaHealth initially obtained its funding from three different sources including government, the Secretariat Pacific Community (SPC) and private donors. In 2016 a total of AUD 2 million was contributed by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) over 5 years to TongaHealth for implementation of the Tonga National NCD Strategy 2015-2020, with additional funding from the government budget of TOP 500,000 now increased to TOP 600,000.  To date TongaHealth continued to obtain its funding from the Government of Australia through DFAT with a total of AUD 2 million over 5 years which was concluded in 2021 with a new transitional grant of AUD 300 million until June 2020 awaiting new arrangement through Tonga Health System Support Phase 3 (THSSP3). In 2020 TongaHealth also received a grant from European Union of TOP 125,000 for implementation of Zumba for 5 secondary schools in Tonga.

The TongaHealth fund aims to build knowledge and skills in public health, research, social marketing and health promotion programmes that focus on preventive health and reducing the impact of NCDs. Specifically, TongaHealth promotes and advocates for healthy environments and access to healthy activity and food supply. Increasing awareness and encouraging healthy behavior through a healthy lifestyle includes staying physically active, eating healthy food, reduce consumption of alcohol and not smoking. A variety of programmes are implemented through a grant programme.

The limited and unstable funding source provides a great challenge for TongaHealth to plan for sustainable and long-term health promotion programmes. TongaHealth has fostered strong partnerships with various sectors including Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, AusAID, European Union, SPC, other governmental departments, NGOs, churches and villages communities to secure a more sustainable funding source. 


Health Promotion Foundation Act 2007.

Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth). Annual Report 2017-2018.

Ministry of Health. Tonga National Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Strategy 2021-2025 (Draft).

Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth). Our Story – TongaHealth.Presented at Presented at International Seminar on Health Promotion Foundations and 12th Annual Meeting of the INHPF, 25- 27 June 2012, Seoul, South Korea.

Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth). TongaHealth Annual Update June 2011 – May 2012.Presented at Presented at International Seminar on Health Promotion Foundations and 12th Annual Meeting of the INHPF, 25- 27 June 2012, Seoul, South Korea.

Related reports

World Health Organization. (2004). The establishment and use of dedicated taxes for health. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

Vathesatogkit P, Yen Lian T, Ritthipakdee B. (2013). Health Promotion: Sustainable Financing and Governance. Bangkok, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth). 

World Health Organization. (2016). Earmarked tobacco taxes: lessons learnt from nine countries. Geneva, World Health Organization.

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