INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION BRINGS TONGANS MAJOR MEDICAL CENTRE

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Nov. 17, 2002 - PINA Nius Online)---A centre designed to promote public health has opened on the outskirts of the Tongan capital, Nuku‘alofa - thanks to international cooperation.

The Tonga Medical Association Education and Community Health Promotion Center was jointly funded by the association, Australia's AusAID, and the European Union (EU).

During opening ceremonies Frans Baan, head of the Pacific Delegation of the European Commission, indicated there would be further EU health help for remoter areas of Tonga.

The new center is near the kingdom's main Vaiola Hospital and is intended to:

Baan said the EU, in cooperation with Tonga's Government and other donors, wants to go further and support provision of health-care facilities in the outer islands.

He said: "We envisage a substantial contribution of 3 million EURO" (near 7 million tala).

He said this will come under the new Cotonou Agreement. This continues the major aid, trade and development partnership between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean, Pacific) Group.

Baan said in partnership with the government the EU would focus first on the Vava'u islands, in the north. The EU already has longstanding major programs supporting tourism, fisheries, and agriculture development there.

Baan also praised the work of the Tonga Medical Association in developing the new center on the kingdom's main island, Tongatapu.

"No one in their right state of mind would ever question the importance of a good overall state of health for a person’s well-being," he said.

"No one, I believe would also doubt the importance of advocating the need for improved training and awareness-raising in all matters related to health-care."

European Union (EU) members are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

Pacific ACP states are: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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