Nation's health sector makes coronavirus preparations

The Samoa Medical Association [S.M.A.] is hosting its 73rd Annual Scientific Conference this weekend, with Samoa’s preparations for the coronavirus high on the agenda. 

The conference will cover public health and clinical preparedness, and how to manage those with chronic conditions who are exposed to a heightened risk from the disease.

The Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers-Ah Kau, will give the opening address and be followed by the Association’s outgoing President, Fuimoaono Dr. Aleki Fuimaono.

Following the conference, the S.M.A. will conduct its annual general meeting and elect its new executive, led by President-elect, Leniu Dr. Asaua Faasino. 

The new executive will include a representative for young doctors, overseas doctors and Fuimaono will stay on as the immediate past president. 

The World Health Organisation’s Dr. Rasul Bahirov will give an overview on the global and regional status of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So far the Pacific has remained nearly untouched by the global pandemic, though Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, the Northern Marianas and Guam have had outbreaks, of varying size. 

Between 1 and 8 September 2020, 522 new cases were confirmed in the region. 

In Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, community transmission of the disease continues to be an ongoing problem but one is gradually coming under control. 

Samoa’s border remains closed to all countries with the exception of limited repatriation flights. 

The Deputy Director General for Public Health, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, will make a presentation on public health preparations being made at the national hospital. 

The epidemiologist by training will also speak to proposed guidelines for non-communicable disease management – diseases that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19.

A senior physician on the COVID-19 response team, Dr. Folototo Leavai, will brief the Association on clinical preparations.

The Ministry of Health has been training staff across the country on COVID-19. 

Among the work involved is training health workers on clinical guidelines for the disease.

The Ministry has also begun work on a mobile app to track suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19, in the event that one arrives in Samoa. 

Last week the Ministry began an Integrated Public Health programme in Savai’i; this week their work will continue in Upolu. 

In addition to the COVID-19 preparations, the Ministry’s programme includes tuberculosis screening, family planning and immunisation training. 

Other preparations being made by the Ministry include online training for nurses on responding to the disease facilitated by Massey University. Four nurses have been trained in acute dialysis treatment by the National Kidney Foundation. 

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