Samoa Cancer Society, National Kidney team

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CARING FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER AND KIDNEY DIALYSIS: Twelve foreign students from the University of Canberra and members of the Samoa Cancer Society and the National Kidney Foundation are willing to provide the right nutrition for their patients.

CARING FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER AND KIDNEY DIALYSIS: Twelve foreign students from the University of Canberra and members of the Samoa Cancer Society and the National Kidney Foundation are willing to provide the right nutrition for their patients. (Photo: Ilia L Likou.)

Along with the National Kidney Foundation, the Samoa Cancer Society has welcomed twelve guest students of the University of Canberra, Australia, along with their lecturer to start a programme for a healthier way of nutrition for cancer and kidney dialysis patients.

“Our guests are twelve undergraduate nutrition students from Canberra. They will be here for the next two weeks to come and they will be working in collaboration with the Samoa Cancer Society and the National Kidney Foundation”, explained Shelley Burich, Executive Officer of the Samoa Cancer Society during the organization’s latest conference.

According to Mrs. Burich, the foreign students will spend two weeks in Samoa as part of their graduate studies, learning especially about nutrition on the South Pacific islands, but also about how this nutrition in particular is influenced by the different cultural aspects of the area.

“They will learn about what is available and also what is affordable for Pacific island people concerning their own way of nutrition”.

The implementing process of the initiative can be traced back to an earlier meeting: “When they met us last year, they asked if we were interested in providing a joint collaboration and we saw great benefits for them to come back and provide educational resources here in Samoa”.

These resources deal in particular with the food situation on the island, helping the students to understand for instance “what fruits are available by visiting the markets to compile price lists, which in the end of the day might provide for both, cancer patients and kidney dialysis patients, a helpful concept of what they are able to purchase and sustain in ways of their own nutrition”, the Executive Officer told Samoa Observer.

As Burich pointed out, Samoa’s local variety of food indeed offers “the highest nutrition available”, which is one of the reasons the two organizations want to spread the opportunity of this way of nutrition among the said patients: “We really want to promote the use of local products. [The patients] can get these things from their back garden, so these things are particularly easy accessible for them”.

To impart this knowledge about a healthy way of nutrition for cancer or kidney dialysis patients, the students from Australia already have some plans in mind. “The students will be producing special nutrition posters […] with which we will be complementing what the ministry of health is sharing as their nutrition message as well”.

The information provided on these posters will not only include the general nutrition guidelines the patients should follow, which for instance tells them the exact amount of sugar for a day, but also “specific resources which are especially applied to the diseases”.

As a main goal for this project, Shelley Burich also added that the project also tries to “decrease the number of people coming to us, by supporting the governments work in proceeding against so called ‘aggressive advertisement’”.

This kind of advertisement mentioned by Mrs Burich includes for instance messages to the consumer to “drink more things which contain a higher amount of sugar than they actually need to consume. We really want to make people aware of what is out there so that they can make the right choices for themselves”.

To deliver some ideas for these right choices in terms of nutrition, patients will also be equipped with recipe cards designed by the foreign students to provide a diversified but still healthy way of nutrition. 

Even though this special placement is at the moment determined for only two weeks, the University of Canberra is already planning on extending the project: “The University of Canberra indicated their interest in maybe making this a long term relationship, so we’re really excited because this might be the start of something really sustainable for us as a whole”, Shelley Burich stated.

Along with already existing long time partnerships with for example the Cancer Council Australia, Auckland Cancer Society or New Zealand Cancer Society, this most recent collaboration with the University of Canberra offers a special “help in development for resources here in the Pacific Islands”, as Samoa Cancer Society’s Executive Officer concluded.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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