Medical Council supports new Health Minister

The Medical Council has fended off public criticism of new Minister of Health Faimalotoa Kika Stowers' lack of medical expertise and experience.

Medical Council chairman, Motuopua'a Dr Aisoli Vaai, said the new Minister has their full support and they look forward to working with her.

“We will support the new Minister of Health and if she ever needs advice from Council we welcome the partnership, after all the change is all to better serve our people,” he said.

Last week, Cabinet announced a reshuffle of ministerial portfolios, with Faimalotoa and Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama swapping ministerial responsibilities as the Minister of Health and Minister of Women, Community and Social Development. 

“The Prime Minister has made a change in his Ministerial Cabinet and I guess he has seen the problems that have not been sorted. After all we all know there are issues dealing with the health sector.  

"And now that the Prime Minister has changed the Minister, I think the new Minister should have a new team,” he said.

“If you look at the history of the Health Ministers, aside from Tuitama, there was one other doctor who made the Ministerial seat. But all other Ministers, all the others, have no medical background. 

“If the Minister needs the advice of the Council, please ask and we will oblige,” said the Chairman. 

The Chairman also appealed to the new Minister to consider increasing the salaries of doctors. 

“The working condition of the doctors is a major issue whereas most of the doctors are not receiving the right compensation. We need to give them a better salary."

Motuopua'a said the doctors are overworked and they are underpaid. 

“When I was working at the N.H.S. back then, when I was on call from Friday I’m there at 4.00pm to work in the surgical unit. 

“I work from Friday, Saturday, Sunday and I get off at Monday at 8.00am, and at the time the compensation was poor. 

“If the Government wants to keep the doctors, the underlying issue is the salary and that is what the Government needs to work on are the salaries,” he said. 

According to Motuopua'a, the issue will be discussed at their annual general meeting and they will give the new Minister their position. 

Repeated requests by the Samoa Observer for an interview with the former Minister of Health Tuitama were denied.  

Last week the new Minister of Health, Faimalotoa expressed optimism in her new job. 

Despite lacking experience in the health sector, she said she is a strong believer in God and seeking his guidance.

“Whatever you are tasked to do, you give it your all and your best. When the Prime Minister made the changes, I felt that nothing is impossible if you stick to God and ask him for help.

“We are not perfect but God guides us through all and I’m ready to take on the challenge.”

While she admitted that she is neither a doctor a nurse, she acknowledged that taking on the health portfolio is not easy, but believes she has the skills to manage the sector. 

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