Tuitama calls for calm in the face of health changes

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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CALLING FOR CALM TO THE PUBLIC: Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama.

CALLING FOR CALM TO THE PUBLIC: Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama. (Photo: Samoa Observer / File)

The Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama is calling on the public not to panic about what is happening with the health agencies as they go through the transition of merging which will occur by the next fiscal year. 

“The service will not change in any way. It will go on as usual, what’s happening should not in any way affect the way the services of the health care that is delivered.” 

He further noted that “probably the only change that we anticipate is in the management.”  

In the meantime, Cabinet has appointed a task force to oversee the transition and assure the public that it will be smooth, fair and peaceful. The members are Tuitama, the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell. 

Tuitama said they will work on a new proposal to consolidate the task force and consider the formula to best implement the transition. 

“Are we going to contract a homemade one, that will address all the local issues, or are we going to adopt another formula that can work for us, with some modifications to conform to our own standards to our culture?

 “There’s a lot to be considered but the aim is, we feel that everything should be in place by the end of the year and hopefully we’ll present a new consolidated Ministry for the next budget. We will start with some alterations and we’re looking at the simplest transitions and trying to calm the seas.” 

The Minister also pointed out his concerns, “with the present trend of diseases that Samoa is encountering especially the Non Communicable Diseases which includes, diabetes, kidney cancer, hypertension, heart diseases they are really tapping our resources. 

“It’s like a tsunami that has swooped into the country, not only us but over all through the Pacific and developed countries. The Non Communicable Diseases are the number one killer in the world. 

“Sixty plus percent of all deaths are due to Non Communicable Diseases and in the set up that we have now, that really has a negative impact on our efforts to meet this challenge. 

Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell.
Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell.
Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti
Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti

He said “The primary health care is very much compromised; public health is very much diminished, ever since the separation so we are looking now as part of this merge to recapture the community participation.” 

In moving forward the Minister said they are going back to the villages to develop the facilities in the community to provide the service so the people don’t have to come all the way to the hospital.” 

Tuitama believes they would be able to prevent the complications of diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, heart diseases if they go out into the community. 

“It will prevent them from getting worse and requiring specialized services.” 

Tuitama pointed out that the 300 beds they have are full already. 

“With people hospitalized and the amputation of the legs, to provide dialysis for the failed kidneys and cure heart diseases, we will not be able to do that.”  

The Health Minister said, “In the new set up, we will be able to develop the district hospitals, increase the presence of medical officers in the community, treat people in early stages of the problems, so that will not need hospitalization and they will not need to come to the hospital.

At the same time, we will not neglect the majority that now have diabetes. “We have a high number of diabetes and we will continue to encounter complications from these illnesses for the next 10 years from what we have at the moment. 

“We will have to improve and upgrade the facilities, by providing appropriate equipment to deal with these complications; we will also need to improve the capacity of our doctors. 

“We will need more health workers to deal with these diseases so that we can minimize the necessity to send these patients overseas and they will be treated here.”

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