The government has responded to public requests for doctors to be available on a full time basis to district hospitals across Upolu and Savaii by permanently assigning a doctor to each hospital.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi during his weekly programme with 2AP said he recalls that it has been 30 years since villagers have been making requests for full time doctors to be placed in their district hospitals. He says the recent re-merge of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Health Services (NHS), together with the eatablishment of medical schools here in Samoa, has allowed this response to be implemented.
Tuilaepa added that this is a timely initiative, to compliment other areas of national preparation currently being undertaken to ensure Samoa is ready for the health risks that may infiltrate the country from abroad such as the coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister says one of the main focuses of Government’s response is to increase preparedness of rural districts in the event Samoa should have a case of COVID-19, adding that health authorities are moving to re-establish Komiti Tumama to support primary health care within villages.
Komiti Tumama were rural women’s associations established under the New Zealand administration that became the backbone of public health programmes and played a crucial role in preventive medicine at the village level.
Samoan reaearcher Dr Penelope Schoeffel examined the historical development of Komiti Tumama and its eventual stagnation observed in the 1980s due to professionalization and bureaucratization of the national health services.
In response to questions from Samoa Global News Clinical Director of the National Kidney Foundation Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea says at least 7 of the 12 doctors now assigned to district hospitals are NUS Medical School graduates; and says support and training for doctors must be part of the implementation.
“A really good achievement”, said Leituala.
“However they all need continuous support and mentoring from seniors for a successful transition. Primary Health Care doctors need ongoing training just like any branch of medicine; and I urge the MOH in conjunction with the NUS school of medicine to provide this ongoing training, especially since we do have the means to do it remotely”.