Minister Defends Director General of Health, and Says Media Reports are Unverified

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03 May 2022, Apia Samoa.  Samoa’s Minister of Health Valasi Luapitofanua To’ogamaga Tafito Selesele has dismissed media reports alleging that the Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, was implicated in an investigation relating to the procurement of a (computerized tomography) CT scanner for the national hospital.

In an interview with the Health Minister this morning, Hon Valasi told Samoa Global News that the Director General of Health was using unused leave entitlements, which he had himself signed-off on, and that, “there is absolutely no link between Leausa and the CT scanner purchase.”

“Leausa has over 70 days of untaken leave, so when the application (for leave) came before me, I signed and approved it because he had so many unused days..,” said Valasi.

The Minister of Health then took issue with what he called “unverified and false media reports” that linked Dr Naseri to an investigation into “delays with the arrival of a CT scanner”.

In an article dated Sunday 1st May 2022, Radio Polynesia had reported Leausa’s computer hard drive was ceased by the Public Service Commission as part of an investigation into the delay in procuring a CT scan. The article further alleges that, “The hard drive contained deleted emails that led to allegations of collusion and the “discovery of a middle man” in relation to the tendering process of the CT scanner in November 2020″.

The Minister, however, has today adamantly defended the Director General, saying Leausa has no connection whatsoever to the CT scanner purchase, and says Leausa has been wrongly and unfairly implicated.

“E le o iai se sootaga o Leausa i le CT scanner e pei ona tuuaia ma masalomia ai, e pei ona faasalalauina e nisi”.

The Minister of Health said when he came on board in July last year, the procurement process was already underway for a new CT scanner for the national hospital. Valasi said they continued the follow-up process, and found that the delays were linked to issues with communication, and proper coordination with shipment options.

“The CT scanner has now arrived,” said Valasi. “It arrived on the 6th of April, and we are now awaiting a specialist, a radiology technologist to hook it up.”

“But there is no connection between Leausa and the delays of the CT scanner,” said the Minister of Health.

The Minister blamed media for making frivolous reports, that he says are not verified and have no basis.

“E matuai mamao lava Leausa ma le mataupu lea. E leai se fesootaiga o Leausa ma le CT scanner, ae ua faasalalau e nisi le tele o le gasu, ae le faamaoniaina..”

The Minister would not confirm of Cabinet would extend Leausa’s contract, given that the advertisement for the MOH CEO has only just gone out this week.

“I can’t say.. but what I can say, is that Leausa is someone extremely valuable to the organisation.”

“O Leausa, o se tagata, e matua’i aoga tele i le Matagaluega.”

Leausa Dr Take Naseri was first appointed CEO of the Ministry of Health in 2014.  In early May 2019, Dr Naseri was re-appointed for a further three years. The contract anniversary is therefore this month.

However, the Public Service Commission did not begin the recruitment process until Monday week, with a “Special Advertisement” that invites applications for the Director General / CEO for the Ministry of Health due on the 30th of May 2022.