New Zealand Nurses Send Essential Supplies for Gastric Cancer Patients

Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa Taua Pati Gagau with SCS CEO Shirley Burich and Board Member John Ryan.


Samoa’s gastric cancer patients who rely on colostomy bags for quality of life after ostomy operations have been blessed by the assistance of Stomal Therapy nurses in New Zealand who donated 18 boxes in response to a request by the Samoa Cancer Society (SCS).

SCS CEO Shelley Burich says colostomy bags become an essential part of a patient’s everyday life after an operation it was a priority for the SCS Team to ensure this service was readily available and consistent for patients especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

18 boxes when they had been packed n ready at Auckland Airport

“The value of these bags to a patient with stomach/gastric cancer may not be so noticeable to the public eye, but it is such an enhancement to the patients’ quality of health care in an already tumultuous time in their life as a cancer patient”.

The Samoa Cancer Society (SCS) have always been able to supply its registered patients with colostomy bags at no cost through its partnership with a charity organization called The Australia Fund,

Since COVID-19 restrictions and with borders closed to international flights for our normal supply to come from Australia through a charity organization called The Australia Fund, SCS was unable to sustain its

However with international borders closed the good Samaritans in Australia could no longer deliver their usual supply.

The SCS CEO then contacted the the Stomal Therapy Nurses network working with the Counties Manukau District Health (CMDH) Board and Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The New Zealand High Commissioner in Samoa stepped in to cover freight costs and Pacific Forum Line helped with customs clearance and carnage.

PFL helps with clearance

“Within two days, the community nurses at Stomal Therapy unit in Middlemore Hospital had put together a total of 18 boxes of colostomy bags, urology bags and catheters as a donation to the Samoa Cancer Society.”

With supplies running short during the current lockdown, SCS had to refer patients to the Ministry of Health who were charging $3.50 per bag or $70 for a box of 20 and SCS says that as well as charging patients, the process to access the essential supplies was long and tedious.

“However the patient and caregiver found that navigating the pathway to get their supplies through the hospital system was lengthy and frustrating with costs of the bags unaffordable for some if not most of them, especially during these COVID19 times”.

With the announcement from government in April that the SOE would be extended, SCS Board and Team had to top up its supplies from fhe Ministry of Health. SCS had actually purchased colostomy bags from MOH to help alleviate the financial burden of its patients.

“Being an NGO, we are reliant ourselves on donations and donor funding for sustainability and realized that the current option of purchasing bags from MOH was not going to be a sustainable solution”.


“SCS CEO Shelley Burich says, “I am extremely grateful to these community nurses at Middlemore Hospital for coming to the rescue during and despite these turbulent times to assist the non-clinical palliative care work of the Samoa Cancer Society in providing much needed colostomy bags for our gastric and stomach cancer patients;

“I also wish to acknowledge the efficient services of Pacific Forum Line (PFL) who assisted with the freight logistics and cartage from Faleolo Airport to Matautu, including Customs clearance and release documents;

“The cost of airfreighting the 174kgs has graciously been covered by the New Zealand High Commission to Samoa, and through this generosity, our registered stomy patients will benefit from the continuation of donated bags, as well as saving funds for the Society”.

SCS continues to enforce COVID-19 SOE measures during daily office operations especially in delivering supplies to cancer patients during home visits with the Patient Support Officer (PSO) maintaining social distancing and leaving supplies at the door. The same practice is done when they arrive at the office.

Stoma Nurses in New Zealand

New Zealand are fortunate to have Stoma Nurses within the various DHB’s. A Stoma Nurse assists with assessments, care and management of your stoma and supplies which can involve home visits. A Stoma Nurse is a super hero in many cases, as they are your first point of contact for patients who experience problems.

What is Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach. Age, diet, and stomach disease can affect the risk of developing gastric cancer. Symptoms of gastric cancer include indigestion and stomach discomfort or pain.

What is a Colostomy Bag

A colostomy bag is a plastic bag that collects fecal matter from the digestive tract through an opening in the abdominal wall called a stoma. Doctors attach a bag to the stoma following a colostomy operation. During a colostomy, a surgeon will bring out a portion of a person’s large intestine through the stoma. The colostomy bag can then collect stool as it passes through the gut. A person often needs a colostomy due to injury, disease, or another issue with the lower bowels. In some cases, the colostomy is temporary. In other situations, such as the removal of the colon due to bowel, colon or gastric cancer, colostomy may be permanent.

Samoa Cancer Society

For Further Media Information Contact:
Shelley Burich, SCS Chief Executive Officer
Ph: 29813

Verona Parker, SCS Fundraising & Marketing Manager
Ph: 23984

Acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa Taua Pati Gagau with SCS CEO Shirley Burich and Board Member John Ryan.