Conference addresses health challenges in Samoa

03 July 2016, 12:00AM

The Samoa Medical Association hosted a successful Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Meeting at the end of May. 

The theme of the 69th AGM and scientific meeting was “Maternal, Child Health and Family Planning, sustaining Samoa’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) within the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  

As highlighted by the World Health Organization’s Representative in Samoa, Dr Baoping Yang, although there has been a dramatic reduction in under five mortality rate globally, global efforts are still insufficient to reduce this rate by 2/3s as targeted. In relation to maternal mortality ratio, this has dropped by 44% from 380 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 216 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. 

 Key things which need to improve include increasing coverage of essential interventions proved to save lives such as family planning, use of oral rehydration solution (ORS), antibiotics, health seeking behaviour for pneumonia, measles immunization etc.

In Samoa, there has been a reduction in infant mortality rate from 25 to 15 per 1,000 live births from 1990-2012, a reduction in under 5 mortality rate from 30 to 18 per 1,000 live births from 1990-2012 and a decrease in maternal mortality ratio from 61 to 51 per 100,000 live births from 1996-2015.  Similar to the global situation, much more needs to be done to reduce these rates further.

Pre-conference workshops were held from Thursday 26th May to Sunday 29th May on research and ultrasound for obstetric care by visiting specialists Professor Dr Peter Stone, Professor of Maternal fetal medicine in the University of Auckland, NZ and Professor Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma, a fellow SMA member, a senior lecturer and head of the Pacific women’s health research unit at the university of Auckland and senior consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Middlemore hospital in Auckland NZ.  Participants included nurses and doctors working at the obstetrics and gynecology units of NHS and Samoa Family Health Association.

Key issues highlighted by local presenters Dr Litara Esera-Tulifau and Dr Maapupula Dina Tuitama-Uliate include sepsis being the number one cause of death in children under 5 years old over the recent past, commonly in the form of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis followed by acute gastroenteritis (diarrhoea).  

A major challenging contributing factor to this is late presentation to the hospital, as families of most children that had passed away resorted to “fofo samoa” rather than modern medicine for things such as “makake, la’ofia, gutu malu, mumu asuafi etc”. 

Another major issue of concern for the pediatric population is malnutrition, which has caused some deaths amongst children seen at Motootua hospital. 

Issues of concern raised by local obstetrics and gynaecology team include the reduction of family planning use in Samoa, increasing rates of chlamydia in Samoa and pregnant mothers who do not attend antenatal clinics.  

Key issues highlighted by overseas presenters include the dire need to build capacity for research amongst local doctors and health professionals alike, to inform policies and decision making.  

To encourage local doctors and health professionals to conduct research in Samoa, NZ SMA members have offered to present 2 Awards for best research papers presented during SMA AGM annually for one local SMA member and a medical doctor and another award for a medical student, nurse or paramedical staff, worth $500 each, starting next year.

During its Annual General Meeting, the immediate past president, Salausa Dr John Ah Ching, Associate Minister of Health welcomed the new president 2016/2017, Namulauulu Dr M. Nuualofa Tuuau-Potoi after the ava ole feiloaiga.  

The executive committee members for 2016/2017 include, Lauano Dr Herbert Peters (President elect), Uitualagi Dr Tia Vaai (Treasurer), Dr Adam Howman-Keil (Assistant Treasurer), Tuala Dr Tile Ah Leong-Lui (Secretary), Dr Manatua Iati-Pereira (Assistant Secretary) and executive members, Peaauala Dr Titi Lamese, Misa Faalavaau Dr Navy Collins, Paleasina Dr Isaia Taualapini, Leota Dr Lisi Petaia (NZ member) and Dr Kamara Pouono (Junior member). 

The speakers for the Scientific meeting were, Dr Baoping Yang, Leausa T Dr Take Naseri, Professor Dr Peter Stone, Professor Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma, RN Faimanifo Peseta-Simanu, Jacinta Faalili-Fidow, RN Togiai Vaifagaloa Naseri-Moepogai, RN Taiivao Siniva Cruickshank, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea, Dr Luatupu Ioane-Cleverly, Dr Karaponi Okesene-Gafa, Dr Viliame Sotutu, RN Liai Iosefa-Siitia, Dr Litara Esera-Tulifau, Dr Maapupula Dina Tuitama-Uliate and Dr Faleluafua Matatumua-Adams.  Reverend Deacon Etilasi Eti delivered the benediction while Hon Tuitama Leao Dr Talalelei Tuitama delivered the keynote address.

The Samoa Medical Association wishes to acknowledge the generosity of the following companies and individuals for sponsoring our 69th AGM and scientific meeting; Faumuina Dr Faafetai Sopaga and University of Otago, Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH), Faculty of Medicine at National University of Samoa, Salausa Dr John Ah Ching, Namulauulu Dr M Nuualofa Tuuau-Potoi, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma, Samoa International Finance Agency (SIFA), Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB), Niu Pharmacy, Apia Pharmacy, Vailima Distributors Ltd, Eveni Carruthers Ltd, Pinati’s Restaurant, Roko’s Restaurant, Doctor’s wives Association, Tanoa Tusitala hotel and Ministry of Health.  SMA also wishes to acknowledge  all our overseas members for taking part in this year’s AGM.  

Lastly, we wish to acknowledge with much gratitude our immediate past president, Salausa Dr John Ah Ching and his leadership, and we wish you well with future endeavours.

03 July 2016, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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