Samoans have been urged to take advantage of the free specialist medical services offered by a visiting Interplast plastic and reconstructive surgery team from Australia and New Zealand.
The team of medical specialists will be based at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital and can treat patients with medical conditions such as cleft lip and palate, scarring from burns, hand injuries and tumours.
Patients with these medical conditions should contact the surgical unit at the T.T.M hospital for an appointment.
The interplast medical teams trip to Samoa is funded by the Australian government and Rotary clubs in Australia and New Zealand and has been visiting Samoa since 1983.
According to the senior programme coordinator for Interplast organization, Thomas Loporto, their teams have encountered urgent and extreme cases in Samoa in the past, which are rarely seen in Australia.
He added that it is important for their message to reach the rural areas, where based on their experience most of the cases came from.
“One example is scrotum filariasis which in some patients in Samoa is left unattended for many years.
“These sort of cases tend to be of patients that come from the rural areas, and the main reason cases become urgent and extreme is that treatment is sought late, and often those in the rural areas are not made aware of our visits.
“The message of our visits just doesn’t always reach those in the more remote parts of Samoa and having our visit promoted through the local media is one way of addressing this problem,” he said.
The Interplast medical team relies on their partners at the T.T.M hospital to ensure that the visit is promoted sufficiently across the country and that the patients seen on prior visits are contacted and re-booked for follow-ups.
In the past, Mr Loporto said they performed 30 plus operations with more than 50 people consulted and reviewed during the one-week visit.
When asked whether their team is able to meet the demand, he said there were times when they had to postpone the operations to the next day. But the team will strive to work hard and to attend to as many patients as possible, he added.
“At times our teams have had to postpone operations until the next visit due to the high demand. They are there to serve the patients of Samoa as well as possible. It is important to bear in mind that the type of cases that are present during the week also impacts the total number of operations carried out, as the more complex cases generally take up more operating time than some of the simpler procedures.”
In addition to the surgical tasks, the Interplast team will also provide theatre training to local staff and work closely with their local counterparts (surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and physiotherapists) to ensure that the skills transfer occurs.
The Interplast medical team will conduct a consultation clinic next Monday September 3 at 8.30 a.m. at the outpatient clinic at the T.T.M hospital. Plastic and reconstructive surgery will be done at the T.T.M hospital September 4-7.
To make an appointment to see the Interplast team at the hospital contact Dr. Aleki Fuimaono or Dr Petueli Emose at the surgical unit on telephone +685 66600.