Secretary of Health Elizebeth Iro who led a team to the Northern Group said the programme, involving screening for the disease, took place from April 29 to May 7. The aim was to complete screening of children aged five-15 on the islands of Pukapuka, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn.
“From this 255, a total of 38 children were detected with abnormalities,” Iro said. “They were from Pukapuka, Manihiki and Penrhyn.
“The readings will be sent to a heart specialist in New Zealand to further analyse the results and then a management plan for each child will be prescribed as required.”
The outreach programme not only focussed on cardiology but also provided dental care services as part of the Flying Dentist programme.
Work was also done to upgrade the ministry’s computers/laptops and IT accessories on the islands, to train staff on the use of patient information management system and check the inventory of all fixed assets.
The team also met with island governments to discuss areas for potential collaboration in the future delivery of healthcare.
“I have to commend the team and staff on each island for their dedication and discipline in undertaking their duties which meant working very late into the night and on many occasions multitasking and supporting each other,” Iro said.
She acknowledged the island councils and the communities of each island for providing an opportunity to talk about some of the priorities and health programmes run by the ministry to target non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“We talked about meeting our national targets for health such as reducing premature deaths from NCDs, meeting regional targets for tobacco control with a five per cent target in 2025, and how the individual islands could support the Ministry of Health. The idea of a memorandum of understanding with each island government for better health outcomes was raised but this still needs further discussion,” Iro added.
Dental services manager Dr Danny Areai said a total of 117 patients were treated for problems with their teeth.
He said he was pleased that people took the opportunity to make use of his services while he was on the islands.