Businesswoman Moe Lei Sam has rubbished Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s comments about the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital at Moto’otua.
Ms. Lei Sam said the Prime Minister has totally missed the point.
“To be honest he did that on purpose,” Ms. Lei Sam told the Samoa Observer.
“He ignored the fact that he refuses to pay doctors and nurses more money. Without the hospital we will have a population of sick people and as far as I’m concerned, the hospital should be paradise to us (sick people).”
Last month, Tuilaepa dismissed criticisms of the service at the hospital, telling the media the health facilities at Moto’otua is not supposed to be a paradise.
He said there would always be people unhappy about the service, accusing them of lacking the patience to wait in line to see the doctors.
“The complaints are coming from the people who want to see the doctor after a two minute wait,” he said.
“If we go to hospitals overseas, there are complaints about having to wait for hours compared to here. Ours is way better. The only suggestion I have is to be patient or else there are private practitioners you can go and see.”
But Ms. Lei Sam said the Prime Minister’s response is arrogant, coming from someone who easily has access to overseas medical treatment.
She also dismissed suggestions from Tuilaepa that the complaints are coming from people who don’t want to wait.
“(When) Prime Minister gets a sore toe or ear he quickly books a first class flight to New Zealand to get a checkup,” said Ms. Lei Sam.
“Not everyone can afford to go see a private doctor.
“Oh my God – Prime Minister! If a person comes all the way from Lepa where he’s from it’s about $10tala for a bus fare. When you add the cost of a private doctor and medicine that is even worse. People will end up having to spend $100 tala a day.”
Ms. Lei Sam said if the Prime Minister was an ordinary citizen struggling with money, he could never do what he is telling people to do.
“He is not worried because he’s got our money (to do that). He said its’ not paradise then it’s a morgue because every time people go there they will say goodbye to them.”
According to Ms. Lei Sam when she raised questions about the hospital she was merely voicing her experience about the shortage of beds.
“Come on – elderly people have to wait up to two hours for a doctor,” she reiterated.
“He doesn’t feel anything because he is in a desperate stage. What I mean by that is there are so many debts to pay that we don’t know where to get revenue for it. People don’t have jobs, lots of crime, suicide you name it.
“At the moment I feel worried and sad because this is not Samoa…it’s very sad and I’m worried and scared to death about it.”
Ms. Lei Sam also raised questions about what the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Talalelei Tuitama is doing. She also turned on the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.
“All of these things are happening in Samoa and I never hear the Head of State making any comments about it,” she said.
“Where is he? This is Samoa for Samoa and even his ancestor died for a better Samoa but I haven’t heard a single advice or word from the Head of State.
“Where are you Head of State this is your time. Samoa is crying out for your help.”
The Minister of Health was contacted for a comment but his secretary asked to refer questions to the National Health Services as the Minister was busy and has just returned from Manila.
The office of the Head of State was also contacted for a comment and Mary Lou said His Highness had appointments and will let his secretary, Ulugia Mareko, know about the request.
The outspoken businesswoman added that although her relatives have tried to discourage her from speaking against the government, she will not stop.
“I am not going to sit back and do nothing about this,” she said.