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Tuesday 19 January 2021 1:29pm

Cook Islands Fellowship image
Dr Koko Lwin and Dr Teariki Puni at their graduation ceremony late last year.

Doctors Koko Lwin and Teariki Puni are the latest graduates of the Cook Islands Fellowship in General Practice.

They are the third and fourth to complete the fellowship – a Cook Islands Ministry of Health initiative created in partnership with the University of Otago and the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in 2015.

The programme taps into established New Zealand vocational training pathways; the academic component is provided through Otago's Rural Postgraduate Programme, while the clinical component sees the doctors working and studying alongside their New Zealand-based peers.

Otago's Pacific National Liaison Dr Kati Blattner says the Fellowship is a “huge achievement” for the graduates – particularly since COVID-19 forced Dr Lwin to complete his final paper virtually - but it was also a positive outcome for the Cook Islands.

“This was started because the Cook Island Ministry of Health identified the need to strengthen its primary care and frontline services and there was no general practice training pathway available through traditional institutions.

“While it is still early days and we will be in a better position to assess the outcomes in the next five or so years, this is a really positive step towards building a specialist GP workforce and that's due to the innovative support solutions from all the stakeholders,” she says.

Dr Teariki Faireka, the Director of Primary Care in the Cook Islands, will undertake the clinical attachments in New Zealand for the Fellowship for 2021.

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