Ministry of Health writes to set record straight

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CORRECTIONS TO ARTICLE IN THE OBSERVER DATED 31ST MARCH 2017 AND THE BETWEEN THE LINES PIECE DATED 2ND APRIL 2017

I refer to the articles in your above issues in regard to: “Good Samaritan Puzzled by Delay” (31st March 2017 edition) and “Between the Lines [BTL], “New Ministry Mooted”, (2nd April 2017 edition). 

We wish to set the record straight as follows:

A. With regard to the Observer article “Good Samaritan Puzzled by Delay” in your issue dated 31st March 2017:

1. The Ministry of Health was NOT part of the negotiations from the outset and was only made aware of the above donation on Friday the 31st March 2017 around 11am when Vaai Papu, Mauga Dr Harlich & Mrs Vera Stavemann visited our office at Motootua. This meeting was regarding the donation by the Stavemanns of medical supplies for the Sataua District Hospital. 

2. Mauga Dr Harlich and Mrs Vera Stavemann requested that they would prefer to officially handover their donation of medical supplies to the health officials before they return to Germany on Sunday 2 April 2017. The handover was arranged immediately and their donation was officially handed over at 3pm the same day, at the Ministry of Health premises at Motootua, where the Hon Minister of Health Tuitama Dr T Tuitama was present to receive it. 

3. Vaai Papu Vaai and Mauga Stavemann also informed us that they had been communicating directly with Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A) regarding the ambulance which is currently with F.E.S.A since its arrival early January 2017. They were hoping to handover the ambulance before they leave but are not sure why there was a delay by F.E.S.A. We then advised them to request F.E.S.A again or sought the assistance of Hon Prime Minister as F.E.S.A is of his portfolios, while they still have time in Samoa. 

The allegations in the article that the handover of the ambulance to the Sataua District Hospital was due to delays caused by the Ministry of Health are incorrect. The delay rests with F.E.S.A and as part of responsible journalism; questions on the delay should have been addressed with F.E.S.A, before blaming the Ministry of Health. It is unfortunate that we were not given the opportunity to respond to these accusations as reported in your newspaper. 

 

B. With regard to the related Between the Lines (BTL) article on Sunday the 2nd of April 2017 Observer, we wish to respond as follows:

1. The sarcastic remarks in relation to the Ministry of Health “not getting their act together and causing embarrassment” has no substance (refer facts noted above) hence your comments on this matter are unfounded and has no merit. 

2. The BTL columnist did not research the facts and based on the comments in the article in your newspaper on the 31st March 2017 which was also incorrect. It is irresponsible for a highly rated newspaper to report on untrue information at the expense of the Ministry of Health. 

The Ministry of Health respectfully requests that the false reporting in your newspaper article be corrected and the BTL comments be retracted. We would very much appreciate if the Samoa Observer management could ensure that your journalists follow the basic principles of ethical and honest reporting. Thank you, 

 

Leausa Dr Take Naseri 

Director General of Health/CEO 

Ministry of Health 

 

Cc: Vaai Papu Vaai (Vaisala Hotel)

Dr Harlich H Stavemann 

Vera Stavemann 

Lelevaga Faafouina Mupo (Commissioner FESA)

Tuitama Leao Dr T Tuitama (Hon Minister Health)

 

Ed’s note: Thank you Leausa for “setting the record straight.” Members of the public and our readers would surely appreciate the explanation. But we want to point out that we take “responsible journalism” very seriously.

Your letter said questions on the delay should have been addressed with F.E.S.A, before blaming the Ministry of Health. We did not blame the Ministry of Health. The story was based on what Dr. Harlich H. Stavvemann said.

He was the one who blamed the Ministry of Health. As part of responsible journalism, it was our responsibility to seek comments from the Ministry of Health, which we did.

Questions were sent to info@health.gov.ws about the claims on Thursday 30 March 2017.

We did not receive a response until Tuesday 4 April and by that time, it was obviously too late.

This brings us to the BTL item in question. Although the BTL focussed on this particular case, the tongue-in-cheek opinion was not confined to the Ministry of Health.

It was a general comment about a very common experience the media struggles with in dealing with most government bodies.

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