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Cooks doctor awarded rural health medal

Saturday 17 September 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features

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Cooks doctor awarded rural  health medal
Dr Ruonamakin Rui Mafi (known as Dr Makin) was awarded the Dr Amjad Hamid Medal. University of Otago/22091634

A Cook Islands doctor and Otago postgraduate student has been awarded the Dr Amjad Hamid Medal at the 2022 National Rural Health Conference held in Christchurch this month.

Dr Ruonamakin Rui Mafi (known as Dr Makin), who is practising medicine in the Cook Islands, says, “I’m so honoured to receive this award and for having been given the opportunity to study at the University of Otago by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health (Te Marae Ora).”

Dr Makin completed all her Otago study while based in the Cook Islands.

The Dr Amjad Hamid Medal is awarded to the student who achieves the highest grade in the University of Otago’s Cardiorespiratory Medicine in Rural Hospitals postgraduate paper.

The medal honours the memory of Dr Hamid, who was tragically killed in the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks. It is awarded by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ Division of Rural Hospital Medicine.

Dr Makin was born, raised and schooled in Kiribati and did her medical training at Fiji National University.

During her internship she met her (now) husband, Dr Vakaola Mafi from Tonga, at Lautoka Hospital in Fiji.

After her internship, Dr Makin worked in the ophthalmology department at Lautoka Hospital. In 2013, the couple decided to move with their young family to the Cook Islands to work and explore opportunities.

In the Cook Islands, Dr Makin worked in a range of areas, including emergency and medical wards and obstetrics/gynaecology. She is currently working in primary care, emergency care and medical ward work when required, and also doing some work for the Cook Island Family Welfare Association.

The Cook Islands GP training programme, which includes University of Otago distance taught rural papers as the academic component, was established in 2016. Dr Makin started the rural programme papers in 2019 and has completed the Postgraduate Certificate (Rural and Provincial Hospital Practice).

She is now undertaking her third paper (Medical Specialties) and is aiming to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine. Her ultimate goal is to combine clinical work and research.

Dr Makin says, “Further study has enhanced my clinical knowledge and skills in order to improve the management of our people in the Cook Islands, as well as the wider Pacific community.”

“A huge thank you to the University of Otago staff, my colleagues and family or their support.”

University of Otago Associate Dean Pacific (Christchurch) Dr Kiki Maoate says, “I congratulate Dr Makin on this wonderful achievement. It is also a great achievement for all the partners in the programme, in particular the Cook Islands Ministry of Health, and for Dr Makin’s family, for all their support.”

“Juggling postgraduate study, especially distance learning, while working as a doctor can be demanding, but hopefully Dr Makin’s success will encourage other Pacific doctors to take this step.”

Note: Dr Makin’s husband, Dr Mafi, was the first Pacific Island-based doctor to be awarded the University of Otago’s Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine

  • Kōrero by Andrea Jones/University of Otago