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Much needed medical supplies donated for cancer patients

Gastric cancer patients in Samoa will benefit from medical supplies thanks to efforts by Stomal Therapy nurses working with the Counties Manukau District Health (C.M.D.H.) Board and Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. 

The donation was announced in a statement issued by the Samoa Cancer Society (S.C.S.).

With the announcement by Government in April on an extension of the state of emergency (S.O.E.), this led to the S.C.S. Board and Team to top up its supplies at the office from Ministry of Health (M.O.H.).

The purchase of colostomy bags from M.O.H. was to help alleviate the financial burden of its patients, by distributing these purchased bags for free to them.


“Being an [Non-Governmental Organisation] N.G.O., we are reliant on donations and donor funding for sustainability and realized that the current option of purchasing bags from M.O.H. was not going to be a sustainable solution,” read the statement.

The colostomy bags are an important necessity like toothbrush and toothpaste for a patient living with stomach or gastric cancer at any stage after an operation added that Society.

The Samoa Cancer Society (S.C.S.) have been able to keep its registered patients supplied with colostomy bags at no cost to the patient thanks to an ongoing partnership with the community nurses at the Stomal Therapy unit in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Since COVID-19 restrictions and with border closures to international flights for normal supplies to come from Australia through a charity organization called The Australia Fund, S.C.S. was unable to sustain its regular supply of free bags to its patients.  

The Society in the meantime had referred patients to the Ministry of Health who were selling the bags at $3.50 per bag or $70 for a box of 20.

However, some cancer patients and caregivers encountered difficulties in attaining supplies lengthy and costly. 

Upon learning of a special Air New Zealand A321 flight for emergency medical supplies and equipment from Auckland, S.C.S., Chief Executive Officer Shelley Burich reached out to the society’s friends with C.M.D.H. for assistance.

The COVID-19 Samoa State of Emergency (S.O.E.) did not hinder the donors in supplying hundreds of colostomy bags for gastric cancer patients who have had an ostomy operation in Samoa.

Within two days, the community nurses at Stomal Therapy unit in Middlemore Hospital had put together a total of 18 boxes of colostomy bags, urology bags and catheters as a donation.

An Air New Zealand medical and equipment flight arrived in Samoa with the supplies, according to the statement.

Ms. Burich acknowledged the assistance by the community nurses at Middlemore Hospital for coming to the rescue despite these turbulent times.

“To assist the non-clinical palliative care work of the S.C.S. in providing much needed colostomy bags for our gastric and stomach cancer patients,” she added.

“The value of these bags to a patient with stomach/gastric cancer may not be so noticeable to the public eye, but it is such an enhancement to the patients’ quality of health care in an already tumultuous time in their life as a cancer patient.

“It was a priority therefore for the S.C.S. Team to ensure this service was readily available and consistent.”

She also thanked the efficient services of Pacific Forum Line (P.F.L.) who assisted with the freight logistics and cartage from Faleolo Airport to Matautu, including Customs clearance and release documents.

“The cost of airfreighting the 174kgs has graciously been covered by the New Zealand High Commission to Samoa, and through this generosity, our registered stomy patients will benefit from the continuation of donated bags, as well as saving funds for the Society.”

S.C.S. continues to enforce COVID-19 S.O.E. measures during daily office operations especially in delivering supplies to cancer patients during home visits with the Patient Support Officer (P.S.O.) maintaining social distancing and leaving supplies at the door. 

The same practice is done when they arrive at the office.  

* A colostomy bag is a plastic bag that collects fecal matter from the digestive tract through an opening in the abdominal wall called a stoma. Doctors attach a bag to the stoma following a colostomy operation. During a colostomy, a surgeon will bring out a portion of a person’s large intestine through the stoma. The colostomy bag can then collect stool as it passes through the gut. A person often needs a colostomy due to injury, disease, or another issue with the lower bowels. In some cases, the colostomy is temporary. In other situations, such as the removal of the colon due to bowel, colon or gastric cancer, colostomy may be permanent.

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