Doubts in govt.'s plan to lease $4.5m property

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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DIRECTOR OF HOPE 4 CANCER: Dr Antonio Jimenez.

DIRECTOR OF HOPE 4 CANCER: Dr Antonio Jimenez.

The $4.5million headquarters of the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C) at Tuana’imato could be back on the market soon.

The Samoa Observer has been told that Cabinet has disbanded a special Committee set up last year to work on an agreement for Hope 4 Cancer Clinic to use the building.

An official comment could not be obtained at press time last night.

The General Manager of Samoa Land Corporation, Ulugia Petelo Kavesi, told the Samoa Observer, he is not the right person to comment on the matter.

He referred questions to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Purcell. Contacted for a comment, his Secretary said Lautafi was in a meeting.

But an inside source told the Samoa Observer that Cabinet had made the decision last week.

 “They dismissed the Hope-4-Cancer Committee,” the source said. 

“This means they have also cancelled their decision on Hope-4-Cancer to use the abandoned building.

 “So for now, the government is now working with the Samoa Land Corporation to look for another tenant to use the building.”

Last year, Cabinet approved the plan for the building to house Hope 4 Cancer. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, confirmed it. 

“They requested for the three storey building to start up the Clinic,” he said. “I have sent out a letter today to inform (parties) that the request has been approved and to allow the facility to be used for the clinic in Samoa to accommodate people with cancer.”

The decision followed a visit by the Medical Director of the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Mexico, Dr. Antonio Jimenez who met with the Minister of Health and local officials about their plans.

Dr. Jimenez said their mission in Samoa is to establish a Hope 4 Cancer Center to attract medical tourism. 

“We will find and enable solutions for the Chronic Health Challenges facing the Samoan population and we will treat Samoan cancer patients locally to avoid travel to other countries for ineffective treatments,” he said. 

Dr. Jimenez said they chose Samoa because of the strategic, geographical location close to Australia, Asia and Africa.

“Not only that but Samoa’s low cost of living will make travel to Samoa more attractive than to other countries, because the cost of saving is the primary reason for the medical tourism choices of 70% patients. 

“Also because of the government support and the favourable regulation environment, it will allow us to provide the best possible treatments.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa had strongly favoured the plan.

 “This group is highly recommending healthy eating and natural healing, like us here in Samoa,” he said.

“There are a lot of cancer patients who don’t want to go through the normal treatment of cancer like chemo and radiation but they would gladly go through what these doctors are bringing on the table.

“The reason why they want to setup a clinic here in Samoa is because most of their patients are from New Zealand and Australia and so it would be easier for these patients to travel to Samoa rather than spending a lot of money going to America which is expensive.” 

Attempts to get a comment from the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama yesterday were unsuccessful. His secretary said that the right person to ask for a comment, is the C.E.O. of the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Agafili Shem Leo.

The Executive Officer of the Samoa Cancer Society (S.C.S), Shelley Burich, told the Samoa Observer they have nothing to do with Hope 4 Cancer.

“I think we have put in our concern last year when they first came over to do a presentation and I know the government said that everyone has a choice about the type of treatment they wish to take,” Ms. Burich said yesterday.

In July last year, a special committee was approved by Cabinet to prepare an agreement with Hope 4 Cancer clinic. 

Speaking about the issue at the time, Minister Lautafi said the agreement would outline the terms of the lease. 

 “Every detail of the lease will be in the agreement,” he explained. 

“They (Hope 4 Cancer) are keen to get here but before that, the agreement (needs to be arranged) and signed.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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