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Family the focus of Pacific health conference

Thursday 7 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Health, National


Family the focus of Pacific health conference
Acting Prime Minister Albert Nicholas attended the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) conference in Rarotonga on Wednesday. He is pictured with the PMA President and Chair of the Pasifika Medical Association Group Dr Kiki Maoate and Te Marae Ora Secretary Bob Williams at the opening of the PMA Conference. MELINA ETCHES/23090619

The 27th Annual Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), the largest meeting of Pacific health workers and professionals in the region, opened yesterday with over 600 registrations.

Pacifika Medical Association has partnered with Te Marae Ora (Ministry of Health) to host the 2023 meeting from September 6 to 8 on Rarotonga at Te Are Karioi Nui, and September 11, in Aitutaki.

In his opening delivery, PMA President, Cook Islander Dr Kiki Maoate ONZM FRACS, also the Chair of the Pasifika Medical Association Group, highlighted the significance of family in advancing Pacific health care.

“It is the families that are the most important, not us,” he said.

“We are successful today because we listen to families.”

“We are an organisation which has grown because we listen to families and we need to listen to our families.”

Dr Maoate remarked on the strong relationships PMA nurtures, to continue to grow, “because those are the relationships that will teach our kids how to be consistent, how to follow through and how to look at long term plans for our people. And that will lead onto things like climate change.”

Relationships were crucial for the organisation’s workforce, he added, and noted the significance of investing in Pasifika people and supporting their pathways.

Also passionate about keeping culture and Reo Māori language alive and strong, he commended students from Apii Avarua who sang the opening hymn in Cook Islands Māori, encouraging others to also be proud of their heritage.

PMA Chief Executive Officer, Debbie Sorensen DCCT CMinstD NZRPN | CEO, Pasifika Medical Association Group, in her delivery, also noted their vision and whole emphasis on families and future young people.

“How incredibly lucky we are to have this vibrant group of people coming through to be working in our communities, to serve our families, and to actually keep building our communities.”

Health Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown embraced the celebration of the Cook Islands 21st Health Conference as well as the PMA’s 27th Conference.

The conference would provide a space to listen, to learn, to discover innovative ideas and best practices, networking, sharing knowledge and to build resilience, she said.

Pasifika Medical Association Patron Lord Tangi ‘o Vaonukonuka FRACS  Patron, in his opening address welcomed the medical professionals and observers to opening of the conference.

This year's theme is “Te ‘Akirata ‘Ou – The New Dawn”, some of the guiding principles include Being Brave: Humanitarian Assistance and responding to the climate crisis, Best Practice: Primary care and health system resilience, Brilliant: Our future workforce and Bold Innovation: Mental health access and integration.

The conference will feature a number of Pacific health leaders from across the region, including Minister Toki-Brown, Te Marae Ora Secretary Bob Williams and Kiribati Secretary of Health, Benny Teuea.

PMA Group Board Director, Sir Collin Tukuitonga, Dame Teuila Percival will also be presenting, as well as Jonathon and Leanndra Ross, who have both travelled from Alaska and will speak about indigenous-led conservation and the transformative power of story.

Established in 1996, PMA provides a forum for Pacific medical professionals to nurture and grow our Pacific health workforce.

The Pasifika Medical Association is a multidisciplinary Non-Governmental Charitable Organisation with membership of more than 7000 members in Aotearoa New Zealand and across the Pacific region.

The PMA Scholarships have granted $570,000 to 71 Pacific applicants since 2019.