Two Samoas Meet For Fourth Annual Bilateral Summit

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Improvement of health care collaboration them of meeting

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 16, 2013) – A multi-sector approach towards combatting non-communicable diseases was the biggest achievement to come out of the health conference between the two Samoas.

The Fourth Annual Bilateral Health Summit concluded yesterday with both countries seeing progress being made in the fight against NCDs and their related health issues.

Director General of the Health Ministry PalanitinaTupuimatagiToelupesaid this year participants had the opportunity to report on their progress form the last conference.

"The conference this year is more or less reporting back on what we said last year we would do between then and now," she said.

"Although the implementation wasn’t hundred per cent, we achieved what we planned to do.

"(Which) is to look at what the progress we made the commitment to the prevention of NCDs and how the two island countries can collaborate to enhance country specific programs.

"And the learning has been exceptional."

She said the biggest achievement for Samoa was solidifying the multi-sectoral approach in combating NCDs.

"We have acknowledged a long time ago that the situation with NCDs is no longer a health specific problem," she said.

"The social determinants for health that are affecting health and impacting on our lifestyle issues are way beyond our control and that we need a multi-sectoral approach towards this.

"And I think that is our biggest achievement.

"Everybody now is convinced that without a whole of government or whole of country approach and a multi sectoral collaboration, where everybody else that has an interest in this lifestyle issue is involved, we wont be able to at least address the associated issues."

American Samoa’s Department of Health director, Motusa Tuileama Nua agreed with this saying the summit was a big lesson for both nations.

"The collaboration and using of the multi-sectoral partners and working with them not only in the Independent State of Samoa but in American Samoa," he said.

"We bought just about every level of leadership including the private sector with us to witness the last day and half so we can provide this (information) the people back in American Samoa.

"So I believe the more we get into this and it’s a large or big lesson for both Samoas coming together."

He said for his first bilateral summit as the Director of Health, the meeting itself went very well.

"We were also fortunate to collaborate and link up with the only medical centre in American Samoa and bought their CEO with several doctors from its department of the hospital so they can provide testimony and data for this event," he said.

"Our delegation was 50 plus and we were able to put together a report just through members of the coalition and the territory.

"We were very open with our data, so I believe it went very, very well."

He said during his time in Apia he had seen a lot of changes here in the way people conduct themselves the way they lead their daily lives.

"This is my second time coming back to Apia in the last 35 years and I have never seen this happen before," he said.

"Early in the morning when I come out to do my physical activity the community is already out walking and doing exercise around down town.

"I don’t see the large people not compared to myside in American Samoa.

"Food – it is the western influence we are dealing with that is a challenge for our culture.

"It is an every day normal thing and that is due to the fact we have a lot of resources and a lot of support from our motherland United States.

"With that many resources we have many choices – people just turn around and say we don’t want to follow this NCD project.

"So it is good living versus enjoy your self now and cut your life short."

Motusa also took the opportunity to thank Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and our Minister for Health Tuitama Talalelei Tuitama for sharing their information.

"And providing us with their best practice so it can assist us when we get back to the territory on how to approach those key parts of fighting the non-communicable dieseases," he said.

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