World Health Organization Regional Director Visits Samoa

Dr. Shin hears about NCD programs, talks about ways to strengthen primary care

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, May 4, 2017) – World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Shin Young-soo is visiting Samoa today, bolstering the commitment to assist countries in achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Shin met with senior officials and discussed the achievements of health programmes to tackle non communicable diseases (NCDs) and ways to strengthen primary health care. He made courtesy calls on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, the Minister of Health Afioga Tuitama Dr. LeaoTalalelei Tuitama, Speaker of Parliament Leaupepe Taimaaiono Toleafoa Faafisi and members of the Samoa Parliament Advocacy Group on Healthy Living (SPAGHL).

Dr. Shin also visited PEN Fa’a Samoa demonstration sites in Upolu and Savaii. There, he talked with government officials and village people to review the programme’s progress and encourage further development. PEN Fa’a Samoa is a community-based NCD early detection and management programme that was adapted from WHO’s Package of Essential NCD (PEN) interventions to reflect the traditional Samoan way of life, Fa’a Samoa.

The programme was launched in 2014 with the high-level commitment of the WHO Regional Director and Samoa’s Minister of Health and has successfully been demonstrated in seven villages so far. Through PEN Fa’a Samoa, significant numbers of Samoan people are screened for NCD risk factors, and those who are referred to health facilities often return to their villages to raise awareness of the importance of healthy living.

WHO advocatesthe use of primary health care and public health strategies to build health system capacity to address NCDs and their risk factors. Health care provided in villages and health facilities should be linked to facilitate people-centred, coordinated care, and should be carried out in conjunction with national and district level public health interventions aimed at tobacco cessation, reducing alcohol, sugar and salt consumption, and encouraging physical activities.

A bottom-up approach is needed to address people’s health demand in combination with community engagement and participation, which is a core component of primary health care in Samoa.

A health information system is important to monitor and evaluate the progress of health policies and programmes, to assess the health status of the population, and to improve the quality and efficiency of health services. WHO has supported the Ministry of Health in developing the eHealth Policy and Strategy, and actively cooperated with key development partners including Asian Development Bank and DFAT of Australia.

Dr. Shin will re-emphasize that well-coordinated teamwork is essential to implement the multimillion, multi-phased eHealth project, for which WHO is happy to continue providing necessary technical assistance.

Dr. Shin also visited the village of Lalomalava in Savaii, where he was bestowed an honorary matai title Pulelei’ite.

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