Improved Samoan hospitals mean fewer overseas referrals
Public health patients in Samoa won't have to travel overseas for costly medical treatments following major improvements to the national hospital.
Public health patients in Samoa won't have to travel overseas for costly medical treatment, following major improvements to the national hospital.
The Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital has a number of new modern wards.
The hospital rebuild is on the location where Samoa's first hospital was constructed back in 1912 by the German administration.
Sara Vui-Talitu reports:
This week, government and health officials celebrated the completion of the first phase of the rebuild, that is now open to the public. The total cost is US$60 million or 128 million tala, and the work is being done by the Shanghai Construction Group from China. There is now a new in-patient's building, including paediatrics, maternity, surgical and medical wards, as well as a pharmacy, laboratories, an X-ray unit, operating theatres and a new intensive care unit. New medical equipment has also been supplied, funded by the Samoa government with assistance from New Zealand. Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says the government believed there is no real growth of an economy and nation without a healthy population, and the upgrade will benefit them financially.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: The other important thing with the new project was the prime minister telling the people that the government assistance of sending patients overseas for medical treatment will no longer happen, and it's going to save a lot of government money.
A psychiatrist in Samoa says the hospital refurbishment is well overdue, given many parts of the public hospital were very old and run-down. Dr Ian Parkin says there are some interesting things about the rebuild.
IAN PARKIN: The toilets, for instance, are just standard-sized toilet cubicles, which makes it very difficult if you need to assist a patient. Other than that and the fact that we've had Chinese power points – again, of course, we can't use Chinese plugs, so there are idiosyncrasies like that. But in general it's just a major leap forward.
The next stage is to complete units such as accident and emergency, a genuine children's out-patient unit, as well as a morgue, dental clinic and a new training facility for the Oceania University of Medicine. A new mental health clinic is also to be built. Dr Ian Parkin says they are making do at the moment in temporary premises.
IAN PARKIN: We have a renovated car port, so it's divided up into a room with an ensuite area for one patient and then one single office which contains everybody. So it's not ideal for interviewing patients. It will be great to see the new building because the new building will have individual offices.
Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says patient hospital fees will rise.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: The fees have increased. Currently, you have to pay 5 tala, which is around US$2.50 for seeing a doctor. It's now increased to 10 tala. So, yes, of course, the new hospital comes with an increase in hospital fees.
The improvements are being funded through a loan as part of Samoa's development partnership with China.
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