Tuesday 24 September 2019 10:44pm
Va’a o Tautai Pacific Regional Coordinator Frances Brebner (left), Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Health Sciences, Professor Paul Brunton (centre) and Associate Dean (Pacific), Health Sciences, Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga (right) with final-year dentistry students Nathan Schuurman and Ellen Simpson during a trip to Samoa to gift eight dental chairs from Otago.
There is a little slice of the Faculty of Dentistry’s history in Samoa with the recent arrival of dental chairs no longer needed in Dunedin, with the development of the new clinical services building.
A delegation from the Division of Health Sciences and Vaá O Tautai, the Division’s Pacific Centre, recently travelled to Samoa to participate in a formal gifting ceremony of eight 2003 Sirona C8+ dental unit models, which were shipped from Port Otago.
The gesture was due to the foresight of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division, Professor Paul Brunton, after a recent trip to Samoa to visit Otago students on placement.
“I saw the condition of the equipment they were using and how this was restricting what they could do for patients,” Professor Brunton explains.
"This gift will enable the Ministry of Health to expand access to dental health care in Samoa."
“We had some chairs that we were replacing as part of our development of the new clinical services building at the dental school which I considered had plenty of life left in them; so I spoke with my colleagues who agreed to donate the chairs to the people of Samoa.”
Associate Dean (Pacific), Health Sciences, Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga explains it was a very positive trip with meaningful engagements with the health and education sectors.
The gift was met with much appreciation and fanfare in the Pacific Island with the formal ceremony being televised and broadcast through the national radio station.
The ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Samoa, Dr Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, the Deputy Head of State Afioga Tupusatele, members of the Diplomatic Corp and staff of the Ministry of Health.
Samoa’s Director General of Health, Leausa Samau Dr Take Naseri, says the Samoan Ministry of Health is very grateful for the donation.
“This gift will enable the Ministry of Health to expand access to dental health care in Samoa.”
Associate Professor Sopoaga says the chairs will be used in clinics both in Upolu and also on the larger island of Savaii, in its rural sector, which will facilitate access to these services.
“Professor Brunton had the opportunity to visit Savaii and engaged with senior staff who were pleased to be receiving the support for their dental services.”
Each year a number of final-year dentistry students from the Faculty of Dentistry travel to carry out their elective attachment in the Pacific Islands (Samoa, Fiji and Tonga).
Associate Professor Sopoaga says the two dental students they met in Samoa on their recent visit said they have gained valuable learning through their experiences with patients.