A renowned surgeon says a lack of funding for health care in the Cook Islands is a disgrace.
The Cook Islands Health Ministry said its budget was currently 3-point-four percent of GDP.
New Zealand based surgeon George Ngaei said he knows of no other Pacific nation that spends less on health.
The Cook Islands born doctor said it had led to a lack of equipment, drugs and other resources.
He said there was a two-tier health system, with the advantaged accessing health care abroad rather than using local services.
"Politicians and their families like other members of the community choose to have their health needs taken care of outside the Cook Islands and some of these conditions can be dealt with at Rarotonga Hospital so it begs the question why are they doing this."
Mr Ngaei, who is an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, said a health budget of at least five percent of GDP would be more appropriate.