Twenty years ago, Dr Williams, Dr Kiki Maoate and a few colleagues initiated the idea for the conference “around a kitchen table”.
Dr Maoate is the first pediatric surgeon in the Pacific and Dr Williams’ pioneering work has been recognised by the World Health Organization. Dr Richie Poulton spoke of the courage it took for Dr Williams to blaze a trail no one had followed before.
I’ve attended several medical conferences here, and I have to say this one on the theme “Celebrating Knowledge” was very special.
Dr Williams shared his in-depth research on the origins of Cook Islanders, including Egypt, where the word Ra is the name of the Sun God. It is often used in local language, such as, “ka kite ra” (See you later).
Ancestors of the Kuki Airani are primarily from Taiwan, Mongolia, Peru, Alaska and Hawaii. Aitutaki Mayor Bishop passionately spoke about the meaning of the name Aitutaki – “guided by God.” When my husband and I first learned that more than five years ago, it confirmed to us that this was home.
Two outstanding talks were given by Araura students, Iripa Maeva and Sammie Henry, and Anastasia Charlie on the topic of diabetes. Their eloquence and clarity received a standing ovation. They, like all the distinguished speakers, made the point that healing is not only in the hands of the doctors, but in our own hands.
The orometua who opened the conference quoted Mathew 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
It takes decisive, determined commitment to do our own part to heal. In the question period, 17-year-old Anastasia pointed out that people who smoke are often bored and need “passion and a dream” in order to focus on something healthy and life-giving.
Iripa and Sammie said that parents need to set an example by packing healthy lunches and cutting sugar consumption themselves. Sugar is now shown to be the major factor in heart disease, and impacts obesity and diabetes as well.
Above all, the message was that it takes two to deliver real healing: your doctor and you. Whether you choose to call on natural healing methods or advice and medication from your doctor, only you can act on it, take your medicine and help yourself to heal.
Many patients stop their medication as soon as they feel better, not completing the course of antibiotics or other meds prescribed by the doctor. This leaves them vulnerable to a repeat of the symptoms. The spiritual side of this issue has to do with virtues we need in order to be as healthy as possible: responsibility to respond ably and take our medicine, self-discipline to fight temptation and replace harmful foods with healthy ones, move, move, move and drink, drink, drink – water, that is. Dentist Joseph Rusaqola pointed out that drinking water is one of the best preventatives for tooth decay.
When I was very ill with Post-Polio Syndrome, I received a vision guiding me to purify my diet by eating mostly water-based foods like fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and breathing fresh air every day, exercising, not too much and not too little. If I gave in to fatigue and didn’t use my muscles I would get worse.
So, use it or lose it! Virtues of faith, trust, enthusiasm, joyfulness and friendship are among those that help us to heal.