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Annual health outreach in the north

Wednesday April 12, 2017 Written by Published in Health

Nine medical professionals from the Health ministry are conducting the annual outreach health programme to the northern group islands.


The group left Rarotonga last Saturday aboard the police patrol boat Te Kukupa and is scheduled to return on April 27.

Under the Ministry of Health’s annual health specialist visits programme funded by New Zealand AID (NZAID), the northern group outreach is one of 19 programmes planned for the period from January 1 to June 30. 

The Health ministry said in a statement that the team aimed to complete a screening programme for rheumatic heart disease in children aged five to 15 on Palmerston and Nassau and carry out screening and detection of rheumatic heart disease on the other islands. They will screen for eye disease and conditions affecting vision, as well as counselling and educating patients about eye diseases. 

They also hope to help island communities screen for possible causes and symptoms of ear problems, and conduct a review of patients with mental disorders. The team will visit schools and homes for early detection of developmental delays in children and will also promote mental wellness and protection of the mentally disabled.

Doctors will make clinical assessments of general health issues and management of non-communicable disease (NCD) cases including foot care for diabetic patients. An oral care awareness programme will be conducted in schools and communities to provide dental restorative care, relief of pain, extractions and scaling.

Led by chief nursing officer Ngakiri Teaea, the team is made up of Dr Zaw Aung, mental health specialist Dr Rangiau Fariu, Dr Mareta Jacob who will review NCD cases, midwife Tohoa Cummings, Dr Kirianu Nio and dentist Dr Aroiva Akama.

Registered nurse Parau Nio will address foot care for diabetes patients and rheumatic heart disease screening, while Nurse Practitioner Doris Taripo will look after eye care and hearing problems.

“The team was mobilised to deliver and meet the prioritised health needs of our communities living in the northern outer islands and each island government has been aksed to ensure that their communities are available for health checks while the team is on their island,” the statement said.

The team will visit Palmerston, Nassau, Pukapuka, Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn. They arrived on Palmerston on Sunday and departed for Pukapuka on Monday, expecting to reach the island today. They will leave Pukapuka for Nassau on Friday. 

The team will leave Nassau on April 15 and arrive on Manihiki on Sunday, April 16.  Rakahanga is in line for a visit on April 19 and Penrhyn on April 21. They will leave Penrhyn for Rarotonga on April 24.

Other health specialist visits to the Cook Islands to be covered by the programme this year will include mammography, urology, ear, nose and throat (ENT), adult and paediatric cardiology, orthopaedics, general medicine, mental health, gynaecology, ophthalmology, diabetes management, dermatology, orthodontic, adult and paediatric neurology, general paediatrics and endoscopy.

            - Release/ CS

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