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NZMTS: Gynecological oncology team's visit to Samoa highlights value of partnership in the Pacific region
Updates / News, 29 May 24
The Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Group's recent deployment of a specialised gynecological oncology team to Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia, Samoa, was a testament to the value of partnership and supportive networks in the region.

Led by the dedicated and compassionate Dr. Ai Ling Tan, an Auckland-based Gynecological Oncologist, this team collaborated closely with the Samoa Ministry of Health during their one-week mission. Dr Tan passionately shared the heartwarming experiences of their visit.

"Our main goal was to empower and uplift the local specialists through surgical training and to tailor pathways for treating gynecological cancers to fit their unique context. Working hand-in-hand with our esteemed national colleagues, we not only provided critical medical care and performed life-saving surgeries but also conducted in-depth educational sessions focusing on gynecological malignancies.

"The dedication and passion of our Samoan counterparts left a profound impact on all of us."

This initiative was part of the visiting medical specialist program under the New Zealand Medical Treatment Scheme (NZMTS), coordinated by the PMA and funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Dr Tan, who also directs the Ascot Central Women’s Clinic and the New Zealand Family Cancer Service, shared her extensive knowledge and unwavering commitment to health issues surrounding gynecological cancers, pre-cancers, and various non-cancerous conditions. Her longstanding work with the International Gynecological Cancer Society in the Pacific further highlighted her deep connection and dedication to the region.

Reflecting on their engagement with the local healthcare community, Dr Tan expressed heartfelt admiration.

"Our discussions with the dedicated Director General of Health, Aiono Professor Alec Ekeroma, highlighted Samoa's unwavering commitment to healthcare excellence. Alongside Dr. Silipa Naiqiso, we were deeply moved by the compassion, resilience, and innovative spirit of our Samoan colleagues. We are firmly committed to nurturing this partnership long into the future, fulfilling the vision shared by the local team."

Dr. Silipa Naiqiso, a Fijian-born gynecological oncologist, also extended praise for the Samoan health workforce and their inspiring leadership under Aiono Professor Ekeroma, who is also a founding PMA Life Member.

“The visit was not only a chance to connect with inspiring local healthcare professionals and patients but also an invaluable opportunity to assess and address the needs in infrastructure, education, and capacity building.

"By providing educational support and conducting critical surgeries, they aimed to enhance the current standard of care for patients with gynecological malignancies.”

Through this collaboration, the foundations of meaningful partnership were sown, under the shared objective of better health outcomes for Samoan women.