The Cook Islands Health Minister has hit back at claims his country's expenditure on health care is a disgrace.
The health budget of 3.4 of GDP has been criticised by prominent New Zealand surgeon George Ngaei, who was born in the Cook Islands.
Health Minister Nandi Glassie said while the figure was below the World Health Organisation standard of five percent, it's equivalent to nine million US dollars.
The Minister said he argued for more money for health but it was the best that could be done within budget constraints.
"The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health has got the larger portion of the budget beside Internal Affairs or Welfare. So I would say that rather than looking at the ratio but the way we appropriate our budget to the two key social policy areas of education and health are at this stage appropriate."
Mr Glassie said health delivery in the Cook Islands was one of the best in the region.