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Dr Kiki Moate has led a specialist medical team to Tonga, supporting local healthcare services.

Photo/ Supplied/ Pasifika Medial Association

Health

Pacific children's doctors support specialists in Tonga

A medical team spent the week at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa, and says many specialist procedures can now be done in Tonga.

Pacific Mornings
Published
24 November 2023, 11:57am
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There's efforts to boost the skills and resources for doctors and specialists services in the Pacific, with a team of children's doctors spending a week in Tonga.

The visiting medical team from the Pasifika Medical Association spent a week at the Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa.

Specialist paediatric surgeon and urologist Dr Kiki Moate says providing support to Tonga has been a longstanding practice for the region.

“Ever since even my father was involved performing cataracts, we had surgeons that came out to the islands, trained our doctors and then our doctors went on to perform what they could do in those particular specialties.

“But what’s happened over the years is the level of sophistication and the type of treatment we offer has changed.”

A visiting medical team at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. Photo/Pasifika Medical Association

Speaking to Levi Matautia-Morgan on 531pi’s Pacific Mornings, Dr Moate says the visit was not about enforcing New Zealand’s systems, but working with medical teams to create a health care system that meets their needs.

“This is about paying due respect to our people who are articulate, know what they want, but are so respectful that will actually allow you to do most things that you want, sometimes to detrimental side effects, but the relationship is not just about spending time and talking and having the dialogue, there’s dialogue that even continues when we leave.”

Tonga's Ministry of Health chief executive Dr Reynold ‘Ofanoa says the work, in collaboration with the New Zealand Medical Treatment team, is positive.

“We are very much grateful for the close collaboration with PMA during the years and that they fully understand the context here in Tonga and what our needs are. It is very heartwarming that they receive funding from MFAT to assist us.

“It is a great opportunity for patients to be able to access specialised treatment here in Tonga and to be given the chance for this scheme to provide positive health outcomes in their individual lives.”

Dr Moate says more procedures can now be done in Tonga, which is a shift from the expectation certain procedures would have to be transferred to New Zealand.

“These services we provide are as good as anything that we provide in New Zealand, and our people should feel confident that what we’re trying to do is good for the future of themselves and also the systems that we’re trying to build up in our countries.”

Watch the full interview here: