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Otago sends medical equipment to Samoa

Thursday 19 October 2017 1:42pm

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Packing the container at Dunedin’s Icon Depot this week were (from left) Mercy Hospital Facilities Team members Robert Larsen and Tony Reid, Otago’s Barbara Weastell, Icon Logistics’ Hayden Arbuckle, Otago’s Fran Cockerell and Faumuina Faafetai Sopoaga and Icon Logistics’ Raph Gawn. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

A 40 foot shipping container filled with medical equipment, infant car seats and more than 100 distraction teddy bears is heading to Samoa, thanks to an initiative by the University’s Division of Health Sciences.

Health Sciences’ Associate Dean (Pacific) Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga says the Division of Health Sciences is committed to helping New Zealand’s Pacific Island neighbours.

“There is an increasing recognition that New Zealand is part of the Pacific region and ought to contribute to its development. This aligns with the University’s Pacific Strategic Framework and its social accountability agenda.”

“We have sent previously content to Samoa as part of a container. This is the first time we are sending a full container. We are also keen to support other Pacific countries.”

Medical equipment destined for the Samoan National Health Service and the National University School of Medicine including hospital beds, crutches, blood pressure monitors, text books, linen and scrubs was packed into the container, along with chairs, tables, 20 new car seats, and more than 100 distraction bears knitted by the Division’s staff and students. The bears will be given to children in hospital to distract them during examination procedures.

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Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga with the distraction bears knitted by staff and students.

Faumuina says the Division was thrilled with the support it received from the Dunedin community.

Donors and sponsors included Otago’s School of BioMedical Sciences, ITS, Clinical Skills Lab, Pacific Islands Centre and Anatomy Museum as well as Rotary, Mercy Hospital, ALSCO, the Southern District Health Board, Dunedin Public Hospital, and the Green Island Medical Centre.

“Mary Mekhail and Barbara Weastell were the key organisers from the Office of the Associate Dean Pacific in the Division of Health Sciences. In particular we are very grateful to Lesley Dennison who has been proactive in supporting this venture and we would like to specifically acknowledge and thank her,” Faumuina says.

She also acknowledges the ongoing and significant support from Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Crampton.

When the container arrives in Samoa in mid-November, the contents will be gifted to the Director General of Health, Dr Take Naseri. Faumina and Pacific Islands Centre Manager Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai will represent the University at this presentation, along with a delegate from Mercy Hospital.

“This is an ongoing venture and we welcome contributions as we will be seeking to send needed items to other Islands as well,” Faumuina says. “Sponsorship and ideas for how we can continue to support our Pacific Island neighbours are always welcome.”