Dr Richard Leona, Medical Superintendent of Vila Central Hospital and Chief Surgeon in Vanuatu is the recipient of this year’s Pasifika Medical Association Service Award.
PMA chief executive Mrs Debbie Sorensen says the purpose of the Award is to recognise the service made by a Pacific medical practitioner to their communities.
“That’s why we recognise health leaders like Dr Richard. His work in the community encourages those around him to give back.”
Dr Leona played a lead role in coordinating the hospital’s response during Cyclone Pam and has been at the forefront of subsequent fundraising and relief efforts.
He studied medicine at the Fiji School of Medicine and went on to specialise in surgery.
Dr Leona has been an influential figure in the evolution of a Vanuatu health system run by Ni-Vanuatu doctors and specialists.
In recent years he has helped to introduce a host of new surgical services and equipment at Vila Central Hospital. He has also been active in improving local health services and training.
Dr Leona helped organise training for health care workers to effectively manage trauma patients – a major cause of death and disability in Vanuatu. He has also led efforts to establish a community medical theatre on the island of Pentecost.
Mrs Sorensen said Dr Leona is a well-known figure in Vanuatu and has served his country in a wide variety of roles at home and internationally. For example, he was doctor for Team Vanuatu at the New Delhi Commonwealth games in 2013.
Dr. Leona was born on the island of Pentecost and is a highly-respected paramount chief there.
“I am pleased, honoured and humbled to be this year’s recipient of the PMA Service Award,” says Dr Leona.