With the South Pacific Games almost upon us, the Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) has laid the foundations by commissioning the Samoa Medical and Anti-Doping agency (S.M.A.D.A.) to identify the key medical health and World Anti-Doping code requirements for athletes and officials for the upcoming pacific games.
S.M.A.D.A. is in its early development but already leads the way for the Pacific by being the first Pacific nation to adopt specific sports based medical training for certified medical practitioners.
Over the past week, S.M.A.D.A. has commenced phase one of a 12-month project by staging strategic planning workshops and training to ensure readiness for the Pacific Games.
“The workshops and training were made possible through S.A.S.N.O.C. by applying for funds through the Oceanian National Olympic Committee (O.N.O.C.) and the Olympic Solidarity Programme,” said S.M.A.D.A. Chair, Kerrie Punivalu.
“Our application for funding was based on key areas around the essential medical and educational requirements needed to better educate our athletes, officials and mentors in the health and wellbeing of athletes in Sport.”
The first two days of the workshop brought together all the key stakeholder to identify current resources and capabilities and to develop a strategic plan for the successful deployment of medical services for the duration of the games.
The participants included representatives from the Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.), Samoan Red Cross, National Health Service, Ministry of Health, S.A.S.N.O.C, Oceania National Olympic Committee (O.N.O.C.), Oceania Regional Anti-Doping Organization (O.R.A.D.O.), Oceania Rugby and the Pacific Games Organizing Committee.
The final two days of the workshop was run in partnership with O.N.O.C. and Oceania Rugby, to deliver Pre-Hospital Immediate Care in Sport Training (P.H.I.C.I.S.), Level 2 certification to certified medical practitioners.
P.H.I.C.I.S. is recognized worldwide and used within World Rugby Standards for sports medical personnel.
Eighteen participants took part including doctors from the National Health System (N.H.S.) and private GP’s who are all members of the Samoan Medical Association, one physiotherapist locally based and two from Australia, one from the Samoan Red Cross and current medical students from the National University of Samoa.
Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea, who is the medical doctor appointed under S.M.A.D.A. to sit on the Oceania Medical Committee has identified that many Pacific nations face challenges in areas around the lack of sports medicine pathways required for medical personnel to acquire the level of knowledge needed to be able to work in the international sporting arena.
“We recognize the work all our medical personnel do, from the volunteers to the doctors but we have to do it properly, by supporting and certifying medical personnel in the delivery of pre-hospital immediate care in sport before the games will ensure we are prepared,” said Leituala.
The course program director Dr. Andy Smith, who is the current director of medical services for Twickenham Sports Complex, the home of English Rugby was in Samoa to conduct the two-day course in partnership with S.M.A.D.A. and the Oceania Sports Education Program (O.S.E.P).
The aim of the course is to introduce the skills and equipment required to facilitate the delivery of immediate care to our sports men and women.
Participants will be assessed to ensure adequate transference of knowledge and skills are obtained to enable them to deliver the care required.
“The course has provided the learning platform for how we as medical practitioners deliver medical services on the sporting field,” said Dr. Malama Tafuna’i.
“Having all medical personnel onboard to understand the differences between pre-hospital immediate care and hospital care will only help us to provide excellent health care services for the future.”
The long-term objectives of S.M.A.D.A. is to develop internationally recognized pathways to ensure all future medical graduates and recognised practitioners are trained to a minimum of P.H.I.C.I.S. level 2.
Combined with the development of an internationally recognised technical medical manual, that takes into consideration the challenges small pacific nations are faced with, will ensure S.M.A.D.A. leads the region when dealing with athletes and officials health and wellbeing for not only the Pacific Games 2019 all Team Samoa sports but for future Pacific Games to come.