After lying vacant with little interest from buyers, the former MedCen Hospital at Vailima may have at last found new tenants.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is looking at setting up the Hope 4 Cancer Clinic there for the time being while the government looks for a permanent place near the beach for the clinic.
This was confirmed on Monday after the group presented to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and members of the Health Sector, what Hope 4 Cancer is all about.
“These doctors from the United States of America are here with the hope to set up a clinic here in Samoa that will treat all illnesses especially Cancer by using different kinds of treatment rather than letting the patient go through chemo and radiation,” he said.
“This group is highly recommending healthy eating and natural healing, like us here in Samoa.
“There are a lot of cancer patients who don’t want to go through the normal treatment of cancer like chemo and radiation but they would gladly go through what these doctors are bringing on the table.
“The reason why they want to setup a clinic here in Samoa is because most of their patients are from New Zealand and Australia and so it would be easier for these patients to travel to Samoa rather than spending a lot of money going to America which is expensive.
“They (cancer patients) also don’t want to go through the hard treatment but rather take these treatments that are much easier and less painful.”
Tuilaepa went on to say that these doctors are well trained and have many years of experience and also many of their patients have recovered from cancer because of these natural treatments.
“From my point of view this will benefit Samoa in many ways; not only that there will be a lot of patients who will travel here but in the side of our tourist industry,” he said.
“The government won’t have to spend millions and millions in sending patients overseas but they will be treated here.
“We went and had a look at the MedCen Hospital at Vailima to start up their clinic while we look for a space that is close to the ocean because these people also want to live a happy life while they are here for treatment.
“The hope for this is to have people travel to Samoa and also to have these doctors help our people so that we won’t spend more money on sending patients overseas and end up having sad results.”
The presentation was from the founder and Medical Director of the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Mexico, Dr Antonio Jimenez.
Dr. Jimenez said the Institute treats cancer patients of all stages and those with other lifestyle diseases.
“We also treat chronic diseases for example diabetes,” he said, “and high risk patients preventatively.”
“Our mission in Samoa is to establish a Hope 4 Cancer Centre to attract medical tourism,” he said.
“We will find and enable solutions for the Chronic Health Challenges facing the Samoan population and we will treat Samoan cancer patients locally to avoid travel to other countries for ineffective treatments.”
Dr. Jimenez said they chose Samoa because of the strategic, geographical location close to Australia, Asia and Africa.
“Not only that but Samoa’s low cost of living will make travel to Samoa more attractive than to other countries, because the cost of saving is the primary reason for the medical tourism choices of 70% patients.
“Also because of the government support and the favourable regulation environment, it will allow us to provide the best possible treatments.”
He said that the benefits of medical tourism for Samoa will generate employment at the clinic where they will need local Samoans at varying levels of expertise.
“Our goal is to use the local Samoan workforce to the greatest extent possible,” he said.
“We will also generate indirect employment in the hospitality industry and the tourism industry in general.
“Patients and companions will use hotels and restaurants, they will visit tourist spots and recommend Samoa to others on their return and many patients may return for follow up visits as well.”
Dr. Jimenez also presented the Hope 4 Cancer Business Model for Samoa Medical Tourism.
“Hope 4 Cancer’s Samoa clinic will first be established at an existing treatment facility with access to basic diagnostics and imaging facilities,” he said.
“Based on the market growth, we will work towards and independent, scalable and self contained facility.
“The programme will be largely based on our Cancun outpatients clinic in Mexico.
“The patients will be accommodated in comfortable outpatient stations, with reclining chairs, a pleasant outside view and connections to audio-visual system for their ongoing education.
“The typical duration of stay will be three weeks for cancer patients, and treatment plans for others indications will be developed individually based on their need.”
He went on to say that they will also partner with local hotels to provide comfortable living quarters for patients and their companions or guests.
“We will make arrangements with local retaurants to ensure that patients have access to meal plans with Hope 4 Cancer-approved dietary choices (vegetarian, organic, gluten-free meals).
“Patients will be allotted half-day sessions, six days a week.
“The rest of the time the patients will be free to enjoy Samoa’s tourist offerings.”
The Medical Director also went on to say that educational programme and Health Prevention will also be available for Samoa.
“We will actively participate in developing am educational programme that will teach people about preventive strategies at the grassroot level, starting with the youngest,” he said.
“These programmes can involve lectures, workshops, hands on cooking classes etc.
“When the adult population’s habits are compromised, they cannot effectively educate the yopunger generation.
“it will be important to involve volunteer health coaches to sustain the momentum of the programme.
“The Government involvement un ensuring consistent media propaganda for the programme will be essential.
“We will also like to discuss with the government ways and means of limiting access to processed foods that are high in added sugars because the easy availability of such foods will undo the best laid plans.”
He also talked about treating Samoan cancer patients at home as the reverse medical tourism.
“With Hope 4 Cancer available in Samoa, Samoan cancer patients will be able to avail themselves of high quality, nontoxic treatments at home,” he said.