Tongan King, Queen Support Children’s Health Programs

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Hospital receives donation of diagnostic stations, furniture

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 15, 2015) – Vaiola Hospital received specialised equipment and furniture as well as funding support for a heart program from the King and Queen, this afternoon during a special visit by HM Queen Nanasipau’u to the children's ward. The donation included two diagnostic stations and colourful pod furniture for the children's ward costing $13,078 [US$5,724], as well as $10,000 [US$4,377] for a program that screens children for rheumatic heart disease.

The diagnostic stations are the first of their kind for the hospital.

The Queen in an emotional address said the gifts were from HM King Tupou VI and herself, to support the vital health care being provided for children who are the future generation of Tonga. She presented the diagnostic stations, which included an auroscope, ophthalmoscope and big ben sphyg on a rolling stand and colourful furniture to Dr Siaosi ‘Aho, Head of Paediatric Ward.

"At one time our grandson was here, which initiated the idea to contact Dr ‘Aho to see what we could do to assist the children’s ward and we thought of the diagnostic station….Taufa’ahau loved staying out here at the lounge with the children so these chairs are to make children happy," she said.

The Queen also presented $10,000 to Dr Toakase Fakakovikaetau in recognising the importance of the Mafu Sai Program in the vital heart sceening of children throughout Tonga, and valuing the work by overseas medical experts who come to Tonga to help the children.

"We have a duty to assist in paying for the local costs so I was told to bring this cheque and present it to Dr Toakase to assist the program. We wish for our children to become healthy people and hope that familes value the importance of staying healthy," Queen Nanasipau'u said.

Grateful

Dr 'Aho said they normally relied on what the country can provide through the Ministry of Health and when they could not provide equipment they look outside to businesses and NGOs for assistance.

"Today it is different because it is from the Royal family and we are deeply honoured and grateful," he said.

The diagnostic station, which features tools to examine the ear, eyes, throat, temperature and blood pressure is mobile and the first for the hospital.

"In the past we used bits of each equipment and I think it grew legs and disappeared or at other times when we needed to use it the tools either had flat batteries or there were none at all. So we feel very blessed for this donation because not everything we want for our working unit is affordable or can be provided by government," he said.

"This was Their Majesties initiative, the Queen came and saw the ward and I identified what was needed. I am humbled by their response because these diagnostic stations will benefit patients and their families," he said.

Heart-screening

Dr Fakakovikaetau said the generous financial assistance would be used to pay for their travel expenses to take the program to the remote islands of Niuafo’ou and Nomuka where they had not yet screened children for rheumatic heart disease.

Since piloting the program in 2003-04, the specialist paediatrican had screened 5000 primary school children for rheumatic heart disease using echocardiography and provided early, effective treatment through penicillin injection.

She said over the years the program had screened primary school children throughout Tongatapu, Vava'u, Ha'apai, 'Eua and Niuatoputapu. "With this fund we will be able to go to Niuafo'ou as early as next month before the school break," she said happily.

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