Top surgeon and lawyer passes away

One of Samoa's most distinguished professionals and few people to excel in both medicine and law, the surgeon and lawyer, Leali'ifano Dr Iopu Tanielu has passed away. 

He was 74. 

Leali'ifano is one of the leading surgeons in the medical fraternity operates his own Medical Clinic, also served as the Chairman of the Medical Council (S.M.C.). 

He was also the former President of the Rotary Apia and also served as a Professor of Medicine with the Oceania University of Medicine in 2002.

Local practitioner Leali'ifano Dr. Iopu Tanielu was Professor of Medicine and in 2014 was when he was admitted into the Samoan Bar and is a member of the Samoa Law Society.

A senior member of the Samoa Medical Association, Toleafoa Manu-falealili Dr Viali Lameko said the medical fraternity has lost a pillar. 

“Dr Iopu is a respected member of the Samoa Medical Association,” said Toleafoa who has been a member of the Samoa medical association for 21 years. 

“As a member of the S.M.C. while he was the Chairperson, Lealiifano was always keen to ensure that we do a thorough background and reference check before we issue a provisional registration to any doctor who wishes to practice medicine in Samoa. 

"He was always full of energy and one of the oldest and active members of the Association who never misses our activities."

Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea said Leali’ifano was highly regarded by doctors:

“A much respected senior colleague and like many before him they keep on working until our Lord call them.” 

Leitauala also pointed out how unique Leali’ifano was given his breadth of experience:

“Not many doctors can practice both medicine and law at the time," said Leituala. 

“All his patients and clients will miss him. Our doctor's [Continuing Medical Education classes] will not be the same without Leali’ifano,” 

The former Chairman of the Medical Council, Leali'ifano in the past challenged the Samoan Government to use local doctors to conduct autopsies. 

The call after the number of dead bodies at the national hospital’s mortuary backed up in a major way. 

He told the Samoa Observer, at the time that there was no need to bring in pathologists from abroad to do autopsies on bodies, which have increased at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital’s mortuary to address a six-month backlog, as local doctors can do the job.

He said he is not a fully trained Forensic Pathologist, but he did some training at the Timaru Public Hospital in New Zealand before and used to be on standby to assist the Police.

Leali’ifano was Chairman of the Medical Council when it revoked the medical license of a Chinese Neurologist who has been working at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital for 19 years after evidence surfaced that he was not a “certified physician” but a “traditional healer.”  


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