The Pasifika Medical Association Emergency Medical Team (PACMAT) completed its first 2-week rotation in Samoa on Sunday and were replaced by the second rotation.

The Pasifika Medical Association Emergency Medical Team (PACMAT) completed its first 2-week rotation in Samoa on Sunday and were replaced by the second rotation.

The teams led by Dr Fionna Bell, General Practitioner and Dr Allister Bush, Psychiatrist quickly integrated into the Samoa health system working alongside Samoa colleagues with ease. The duties were varied over the 2-week period with doctors undertaking shift work rotations in the assessment units and nurses assisting with the mass vaccination campaigns. The Primary care team saw over 4,000 patients and including over 1500 vaccinations delivered by the nursing team.

The Mental health psychosocial team saw over 320 patients and worked with local staff delivering 7 training sessions to enable staff to work with families who have been affected by the measles epidemic. In addition, the team provided psychosocial support for staff who have been working under pressure for many weeks. 

The teams are comprised of senior experienced clinicians, doctors and nurses all of whom have either worked extensively in Samoa and whom speak Samoan. This has enabled the teams to be fully functioning from the first day. The teams describe the incredible work that their local colleagues have been doing and the joy in renewing old friendships.

We were honoured to be visited by Hon Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister and Hon Aupito William Sio Minister of Pacific peoples who visited Samoa to see how New Zealand assistance was working in country. The teams were uplifted by the visit and encouraged by Minister Peters strong message of support

Figure 1: Deputy Prime Minister Hon Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters and Hon Aupito William Sio, Minister of Pacific Peoples visits PACMAT team in Samoa (Photo Credit: Hon Aupito William Sio)
Figure 2: Hon Aupito William Sio,, Minister of Pacific Peoples with PACMAT Team  
(Photo Credit: Hon Aupito William Sio)

The second rotation landed in Apia on Sunday ready for work on Monday morning. This next rotation is led by Dr Andrew Chan Mow General Practitioner and Professor Roger Mulder.

The primary care team have been allocated to the Emergency Department, Paediatrics and the Isolation wards. The team comprises of experienced General Practitioners, a Paediatrician, Paediatric nurses, neonatal nurses and primary care nurses – all Samoan.

The mental health team has been allocated to the Mental Health service and comprises of a Psychiatrist, Psychologists and Psychiatric nurses.

The team is supported by Mrs Finau Levini as team Coordinator and Mr Wesley Talamainu

The team is excited to be on the ground and able to start work immediately.

Figure 3: The PACMAT team on the ground in Samoa
Figure 4: PACMAT Second Deployment Team

Once again we would like to thank our partners the Samoa Health Mission, Samoa Nurses Association and the Pacific Chapter of RNZCGP who have been assisting with recruitment, MEDIC Aid Abroad who have been providing donated supplies, AIR NEW ZEALAND who have assisted in transporting excess luggage for the teams and Canterbury DHB, Auckland DHB and Starship Hospital and Waitemata DHB for your strong support.

We thank all those employers who have released staff so generously to be deployed: Otahuhu College, ETU Pasifika, Three Kings Accident and Emergency, Southseas Healthcare, St Basil Facility Melbourne, Monash Health Community Melbourne, Safe Network, MedCall Health, Waikato DHB, Hutt Valley DHB, Capital and Coast DHB, and Counties Manukau DHB.

Once again heartfelt thanks to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for your support for this work and for enabling us to be part of New Zealand’s support to Samoa.

We continue to seek expressions of interest from Samoan speaking doctors, nurses, psychologists and counsellors for a rotation commencing 12 -26 January 2020.

Please contact hannah@pasifikafutures.co.nz

We continue to be humbled by the opportunity to serve.

We would like to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and safe New Year.

END: Mrs Debbie Sorensen CEO Pasifika Medical Association