Health for all Samoans: Medical Association prioritises universal health coverage

The Samoa Medical Association celebrated and held it’s 71st Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference on the 30th and 31st of May 2018. 

The theme for this year followed that of the World Health Organisation’s for 2018: “Universal Health Coverage; Health for All” 

The two-day occasion was well attended by members and was opened by Rev.  Nouata Saifoloi, E.F.K.S. Vailoa Uta Parish, with a devotional prayer and message; followed by the Keynote address by the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama. 

Highlighted in his speech was the approval of Doctors’ Salaries Readjustment to align with the 2013 Doctors’ Career Structure. This is an issue, which has been the point of numerous discussions and debate of late. 

Welcoming Remarks and a report of notable academic medical achievements in the past 12 months were conveyed; and congratulated by S.M.A. President 2017-2018 Lauano Sala Dr. Herbert Peters. 

Other issues highlighted in his speech was the glaring shortage of doctors working in Samoa with only 79 in practice; the majority as National Health Services employees. 

Samoa needs more doctors to meet the ideal World Health Organisation ratio of 1:1000 clinicians to patient. With its current population of 190000, there is a glaringly obvious mismatch of 1:2500 ratio of clinicians to patient. 

Supporting the recruitment of new quality doctors by supporting the two Medical Schools – Faculty of Medicine (National University of Samoa) and the Oceania University of Medicine – via teaching and capacity building; and supporting the realignment of doctors’ salaries; are some ways SMA strives to achieve and meet the ideal 1:1000 ratio to improve and strengthen Universal Health for all Samoans. 

A most humbling and proud moment in all S.M.A. annual meetings is the recital of the Hippocratic Oath which every Medical Doctor at the start of their career promises and swears to uphold in all his life. 

Led by S.M.A. Immediate Past President 2016—2017 Namulau’ulu Dr. M Nu’ualofa Tuuau-Potoi, all doctors swear an oath to “First do no Harm” and to “Always put the needs of patients first”. 

An anticipated S.M.A. tradition, which was revived in 2015; and has been a feature in all Annual General Meetings since, is the Welcoming Ava Ceremony. It is a proud moment for SMA as it showcases the richness of the faa-Samoa there is, embedded within the Association. This was followed by the AGM whereby the Presidency was officially handed over from SMA President 2017-2018 Lauano Sala Dr Herbert Peters to SMA President 2018-2019 Dr Tanyamarie Petaia. 

The newly elected Executive Committee are: Dr. Tanyamarie Petaia (President 2018/2019), Fuimaono Dr. Aleki Fuimaono (President Elect), Dr Folototo Leavai (Secretary), Dr. Glen Fatupaito (Treasurer), Dr Juniour Posini (Assistant Secretary), Dr Dyxon Hansell (Assistant Treasurer) and Executive members: Namulau’ulu Dr M Nuualofa Tu’u’au Potoi, Leniu Dr Asaua Fa’asino, Pomau Dr Pesamino Une, Professor Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma (overseas rep) and Dr Raymond La’ulu (Juniour doctors’ rep). 

The Annual Scientific Conference 2018 officially launched on Thursday 31st May and saw an array of speakers with expertise in Public Health and a wealth of knowledge and innovative ideas towards achieving Universal Health Coverage for all Samoans. 

In light of the planned Health Sector Merge, the focus of all papers presented was on the Revitalisation of Primary Health Care and Public Health; recognising that what works for Samoa is Prevention at the grass root level. 

The Scientific Conference speakers for 2018 were: Dr. Rasul Baghirov – WHO Representative, Country Office for American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, Leausa Toleafoa Dr Take Naseri – Director General Health, Chief Executive Officer Health, Dr Tim Malloy – President Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Ms. Helen Morgan-Banda – Chief Executive Officer Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Tuala Dr. Tile Ah Leong Lui – Manager Primary Health Care, National Health Services, Tagaloa Auliaimalae Leatigaga Dr Robert Thomsen – Assistant CEO, Quality Assurance Medical and Allied Health Professionals, Salausa Dr John Ah Ching – Obstetrics & Gynaecology Specialist, Dr Richard Hulme – Director Clinical Quality & CME, East Tamaki Health Care NZ

At the culmination of discussions, it was firmly emphasized that in order to achieve Universal Health Coverage, there needs to be a shift of patient care and health services to the Primary level; targeting patients and diseases at the grassroots. It is recognised that this reality can only be realised through Strategic Investment in Workforce Development, Rerouting of Health Finance and Improved Partnerships with all key stakeholders of Health.

S.M.A. Annual Fundraising Ball and 2nd Golden Coconut Awards

The Annual Marquee event and 2nd Golden Coconut Awards was held on Saturday 19th May at the National University of Samoa. 

With the theme “The Roaring 20’s – Great Gatsby” guests and members alike did not disappoint. Well attended by over 200 people, the atmosphere of the night was that of old school glamour and sophistication; made more authentic by the sounds provided by Kulture Band from Fiji. 

This is only the second year that the SMA has started to recognise and honour the tremendous efforts by individuals, businesses and organisations to promote, enhance and support the health of our Samoan people. 

Extending beyond their usual vocation, the 2018 SMA Golden Coconut Awardees were: 

• Leaupepe Savea Tutogi To’o Arundell - Goshen Trust Mental Health Services

• Women in Business Development Incorporated

• Informal Gardeners’ Group

S.M.A. 2018 Concluding Statement

The S.M.A. diligently commits to being a leading partner in the development of Strategic, Innovative and Cost Effective systems to Improve, Promote and Achieve Universal Health Coverage. Further to this, the SMA pledges to honour and work by and according to our truism Ana’ana e Auauna – To serve with Diligence. 

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