Minister downplays concerns

The Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, has downplayed concerns a Chinese Neurologist who has been working at the hospital for 19 years when he is only a “traditional healer.”  

Asked for a comment, Tuitama said having an uncertified physician working at the hospital is not a new problem and it is not confined to Samoa.

It happens everywhere, he said, adding that there have been cases where physicians had worked in New Zealand for many years only to be uncovered later they were not qualified. 

 “This happens,” he said. “It’s nothing new.” 

Last month, it emerged that Dr. Lee, a Chinese, had worked at the hospital as an “uncertified physician.”

The Samoa Medical Council has revoked his medical license on the grounds “he is not a certified physician” but a “traditional healer.”

The decision was confirmed by the Chairman of the Medical Council, Leali’ifano Dr. Iopu Tanielu. 

Minister Tuitama reaffirmed that Dr. Lee is not certified practitioner. 

“It’s true, that is case and this is from reading the report from the Medical Council which indicates that he’s not a qualified practitioner,” he said. 

“But he’s a qualified acupuncture. It happens everywhere, there are physicians in New Zealand who worked for many years and later uncovered that they were not qualified. 

“This happens, it’s nothing new.”

Asked if there are any precautionary measures to ensure this is not repeated, Tuitama said this falls solely on the Medical Council. 

“They are ones who screen everything. Some of his certificates are in Chinese, which is why there was a lateness in finding out what his qualifications are. 

“He’s a certified acupuncture but not a certified physician.”

Last month Dr Lee told the Samoa Observer that his services had been terminated without an explanation. 

“But I feel sorry for my patients,” he said. His services for the hospital started back in 1995 to 1997 when he was an Aid for the Chinese Government. 

“It was in 1998 when I started working in the Medical Ward and over the years I was the only Neurologists left. Even when I was terminated from the hospital, there was no other Neurologists. 

“But I don't know why I was let go.” 

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. 

It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (T.C.M). TCM theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and acupuncture is a pseudoscience.

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