Health chief pays tribute to colleague

The Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, has paid tribute to his deputy, the late Fa’amausili Dr. Ponifasio Ponifasio.

Speaking at a memorial service at the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral on Thursday, Leausa expressed his condolences on behalf of the Ministry and its staff on the passing of the MOH Deputy Director General.

Calling Fa’amausili “Poni” when speaking at the memorial service, he said his service to the people of Samoa was immeasurable.

“He’s the type of person who would not go home when he feels uncertain of something,” Leausa said.

The work of the late surgeon in the 2019 XVI Pacific Games that Samoa played host to last year and the measles epidemic at the backend of the year was also mentioned.

The late Fa’amausili also had a big footprint in the Keto diet challenge, which Leausa said a lot of people are currently following, especially in the health sector.

His commitment to the Keto diet was unquestionable as everyone in his family should know, he added.

Under any circumstances, Faamausili was always just a call away as he was never hard to reach for any emergencies, Leausa added. Except for the time when he was in quarantine in New Zealand for 14 days when he flew over to seek medical treatment.

However, he said the late Deputy Director General managed to get through to him on the Viber app while in New Zealand.

His last message to Leausa and Samoa’s health sector was through Viber – where he encouraged the Director General to be firm with his responsibilities – while he was away for treatment.

“He will always be remembered,” Leausa added.

Dr. Ponifasio was trained as a surgeon at the School of Medicine at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).

He was the Chief Surgeon at the National Health Service from 2012 until he was appointed the Deputy Director General of the M.O.H. in mid-2019. 

Fa'amausili passed away in Auckland, New Zealand on 19 November 2020. His funeral service was held at the St. Annes Catholic Church in New Zealand. 

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