Doctor gives health insights

By Aruna Lolani ,

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HEALTH TALK: The contestants of the Miss Samoa Pageant with Dr. Tanyamarie Petaia yesterday.

HEALTH TALK: The contestants of the Miss Samoa Pageant with Dr. Tanyamarie Petaia yesterday. (Photo: Aruna Lolani)

The winner of the 2017 Miss Samoa Pageant will receive 12 months free medical care from one of the most sought after private doctors in the country, Dr. Tanyamarie Petaia.

The offer was made yesterday during a session on health as part of the road to the Miss Samoa Pageant’s finale on Saturday night.

But that was not the most important part. Dr. Petaia is the Clinical Director and owner of Plaza Healthcare Medical Clinic (formally known as Savalalo Medical Clinic). A qualified pediatrician, Dr. Petaia now works as a General practitioner and one of the eight doctors from all over the world to sit on the Global Medical Advisory Committee at Washington D.C.

The discussion yesterday was frank and to the point.

 “The rate of unwanted pregnancies in Samoa is on the rise and we not only need to realize the consequences but also the impact on your life and that of your families,” she told the contestants.

“So arm yourself with the knowledge on what is available on the market, talk with a trusted ally. There are a few of us who are female medical doctors around so come and talk to us if you want to learn about protection and all the other methods because you can pass on this knowledge to your other friends.”

Sexually transmitted diseases is another major problem.

“The increasing number of sexually transmitted diseases is alarming and they’re getting younger and younger and younger.”

“I just want to share this with you; two days ago I was on my way to the wharf to pick up somebody from the first boat. On the way back, just passed the Chinese Construction company; there were like ten young Samoan females; walking out of that gate; I can only conclude one thing and these are the hot spots that the Ministry of Health has to target.” 

About her journey, Dr. Petaia said becoming a doctor was not an easy path. It was very challenging for her especially when she entered a male dominated profession.

 “For me, being one of the few female U.P.Y. (University Preparatory Year) Science students back then was hard and when we wanted to go into Medicine; there were 12 of us and there were only four scholarships so some of us had to opt for other options.”

“When I did get into Medical School; the thought of six years was daunting enough and I haven’t even started first year. It wasn’t an easy road; in fact the struggle was very real. After the tribulations and the celebrations of graduation; reality sunk in when I entered into a male oriented field.”

“We also met some resistance from our own female counterparts; it was very hard trying to get on the nurses’ good side. They didn’t like getting told or being dictated by a female doctor.

And in the first six months of working; I depended on my parents because my paycheque came after six months and some of the clients or patients especially the relatives did not say the nicest things.”

In life, there will always be challenges.

“I’m sure one of you is dreaming of becoming Miss Samoa then who knows Miss Pacific Islands and then there’s the Miss World. Whatever it is; one thing we might all have in common is that we wish that life is stress-free and free of all the struggles,” Dr. Petaia said. 

 “But in this life; whatever difficulties we may go through, it is rare to give anything in life without some little effort unless of course we’re winning the lottery.”

One of proudest moments was becoming a mother.

“I’ve been blessed with two gorgeous boys; 3 and 4. I had my first baby at 39. I celebrated my big 40 with my second one. In fact they are only 13 month apart,” she said.

“I am here today not as a doctor, not as a guest speaker but I’d like to think that I can be a motivator in encouraging you to keep moving forward, keep reaching for your dreams, whatever that may be, don’t stop when you reach a hurdle. Don’t give up when it’s not going your way. You can make it better.”

Dr. Tanyamarie Petaua wears many hats in her profession. 

A board member of the Loto Taumafai, she is also the Medical Doctor for the Special Olympics Samoa; and the President Elect for the Samoa Medical Association, Clinical Director for the Digicel Medical Outreach, and also a panel doctor for the Immigration New Zealand amongst others.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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