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Health minister takes team to Aitutaki to assess needs

Friday 19 February 2010 | Published in Regional

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An assessment of the social service needs of Aitutaki continued yesterday when minister of health and internal affairs, Apii Piho, flew back to the island with a team of officials.

His day-long visit coincided with the visit of two other ministers to the island this week -- infrastructure minister William ‘Smiley’ Heather (who is due back in Rarotonga today after arriving there on Wednesday) and agriculture minister and deputy prime minister Robert Wigmore.

Piho said secretary of health Tupou Faireka and secretary of internal affairs Bredina Drollet as well as a Red Cross representative were going with him to look at the current health and welfare of the elderly, disabled and infirm on the island.

Piho expected to be meeting with Aitutaki mayor Tai Herman, traditional leaders and other members of the community to discuss their immediate health and welfare needs.

The minister was one of the first to visit Aitutaki last Wednesday after Cyclone Pat hit.

Meanwhile, the ministry of infrastructure and planning is overseeing much of the initial rebuilding efforts on the island and has the responsibility of providing food and housing for the volunteer tradesmen working there.

The ministry is also trying to send a government truck to the island aboard the Southern Phoenix cargo vessel due to reach the island within a week, to assist with this work.

It is understood Heather now has a report on the infrastructure assessment for Aitutaki which details the damage to homes, buildings, roads and more and makes recommendations for further recovery.