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Helping train Cook Island doctors


Kiki MaoateThe University of Otago is helping train young Cook Island general practitioners in a partnership that could benefit both New Zealand and its Pacific neighbour.

Cook Island-born Dr Kiki Maoate is a Canterbury District Health Board paediatric surgeon and the University of Otago, Christchurch’s Associate Dean, Pacific. As a surgeon, he frequently travels to Pacific countries to operate on children with complex cases. As Christchurch’s Associate Dean, Pacific, he is involved in expanding the University’s involvement in the training of young Pacific Island medical professionals.

Cook Islands-born surgeon leading training development

Dr Maoate says the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Health has developed a rural health diploma for its doctors, in partnership with the University of Otago. The Cook Island government issues the qualification and it can only be used in that country, meaning new skills benefit the local population. It provides a much-needed pathway, not previously available, for Cook Island medical practitioners to progress to being rural health specialists.

Diploma students do a placement in a New Zealand rural health setting as part of the course, so get both experience of a new medical environment and soak up expertise from the Kiwi doctors they work alongside.

New diploma gives Kiwi experience and extra qualification

“One of the benefits of this diploma is that in future these more highly-trained GPs will be able to triage patients in their own country and better determine those patients who really need to come to New Zealand for care. That will save money for New Zealanders as it is expensive to move patients. It will also raise the level of important primary care in the Cook Islands.”