The news that a student doctor performed circumcision operations without permission of the Ministry of Health, has raised further question as to why people would seek his services.
Is medical treatment in Samoa too expensive for some?
Is it a case of the unavailability of doctors in some areas?
Or were the patients just simply fooled by this National University of Samoa medical student?
The student charged his patients 70 tala for the circumcisions.
According to Dr. Tagaloa Robert Thomsen, the A.C.E.O. of Health Service Performance and Quality Assurance – Medical & Allied Division the average cost of circumcisions are reasonable compared to overseas prices.
“The cost averages around $150 per child regardless of their age. This is very cheap and reasonable compared to the $1000 or more depending on the child’s age charged overseas,” Dr Tagaloa said.
Dr. Tagaloa says that all other health services costs are “heavily subsidized up to 80% by the government” and people suffering from N.C.D.’s are “subsidized up to 95%”
In regard to the availability of doctors in rural areas far from the main hospital at Moto’otua, Dr. Tagaloa said this is not an issue.
“District Hospitals in the rural areas are visited by General Practitioners once a week to do clinics for both Upolu and Savaii.”
“Therefore people in rural areas have access to doctors on a weekly basis.”
“Families have options of either seeing a private doctor or requesting through the respective district hospitals during the days for a doctor’s visit or they can approach one directly.”
So if it was not the price of medical services or the availability of doctors in some areas then were the people simply just fooled by this student?
According to Dr. Tagaloa verification of a doctor’s eligibility to practice is well documented.
“The M.O.H. publishes a list of doctors issued with medical certificates in newspapers every year. Also the Ministry can be contacted directly for queries about individuals” Dr. Tagaloa said
“Doctors are also issued pocket sized ID cards as proof they are eligible to practice medicine and surgery in Samoa.”
He went on to explain the risks of seeking medical help from unregistered medical personnel.
“Circumcision is a surgical procedure and if not done properly, can lead to major complications including death.”
“This is why circumcisions can only be performed by a registered, medical doctor and not by anyone else; not by a nurse; nor a medical student.”
According to police, the student has not been charged because there were no complaints from his patients.