Counties Manukau Health has had the privilege of working with countries in the wider Pacific Region since 2002. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) funds CM Health to provide services to a number of Pacific countries, and since our first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cook Islands in 2002, Samoa, Niue, Fiji and Kiribati have now joined.
I am proud of the work we are doing to help our Pacific cousins develop the services they need to improve health outcomes for their communities. Instead of assuming we know what’s best for the Pacific people, our approach has been to respond to the need that each Pacific country determines for themselves. Self-determination or tino rangatiratanga as Maaori refer to it will help support sustainable healthcare delivery in the Pacific.
Thank you to Elizabeth Powell, General Manager, Pacific Health Development and the many health professionals, clinicians and colleagues from CM Health and around New Zealand for your contribution to this international effort. Many of our clinicians who work in the Pacific, comment on how much they enjoy the work and how fulfilling it is to work with their Pacific colleagues to support their ambitions to do more for themselves. This benefits us all.
Today I’m joined by Fepulea’I Margie Apa, who recently returned from Samoa after a brief visit. Margie shares her reflections on the work CM Health is doing in Samoa.
I know it’s hard to believe but my trip to Samoa was hard work. Please erase any thoughts of sipping cocktails by the pool and sitting in the sun. In fact, it rained most of the time and we spent the week inside the new air-conditioned hospital. Samoa’s National Health Service (NHS is Samoa’s equivalent of a DHB) opened its new 200-bed hospital last year and has now relocated the majority of its services. We recently completed this exercise with the Harley Gray Building – imagine the challenge of a whole hospital!
While there is incredible pride in having a brand new facility, I was struck by the feedback from staff on how much they appreciate the contact and learning from their New Zealand colleagues. Most Samoa NHS services benefit from having a placement, or being exposed to learning and coaching from our staff (both CM Health and other DHBs). This has given people the confidence to do more in their country. The challenge now for Samoa is to sustain this growth and convince their population that they are confident practitioners. Many still believe they need to leave Samoa to get better specialist care.
CM Health supports Samoa in many ways. From governance and leadership, management support for the new hospital build and commissioning, clinical workforce development, and medical treatment – including visiting medical specialists (VMS). Funded by MFAT, we have provided VMS visits in specialist areas, including Ophthalmology, Mental Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Urology, Paediatrics Surgical, Urology and Paediatrics General. 19 Specialists (Consultants and specialist nurses) from CM Health and around the country have travelled to Samoa to work with local teams. In the past six months, specialists have treated 686 patients in Samoa, and 592 people attended training/skills transfer/ teaching sessions. We’ve also hosted four placements of clinical staff at Middlemore Hospital. 15 patient referrals have been coordinated and paid for out of the NZAID fund. Thank you to all our colleagues and especially the Pacific teams who allow us to work with them. It is truly our privilege.
By the way, Samoa recently launched an Antibiotic Guideline last week developed by Dr Richard Everts. This has been developed using microbiology data that the Samoan people have been collecting on themselves for many years. The guidelines advise on dosage, appropriate antibiotic to match infection and even has a column for 100kg!
Margie and Geraint