Dr Staverton Kautoke went island-hopping as part of the Prime Minister’s tour of the Pacific earlier this month.
Dr Kautoke was part of the delegation of New Zealand Pacific businesspeople and community leaders who visited the Cook Islands, Niue and Tonga.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be part of the delegation to represent the Pasifika Medical Association tasked to observe issues pertinent to the health of our families and communities in the Islands.”
“I also had the opportunity to connect with Mr English and discuss briefly with him the importance of mental health work, especially with a strong focus on mental health services for Pacific in New Zealand and the Pacific region.”
“Focusing on early intervention is critical and education programmes based on what exactly mental health is and what services are provided is key,” says Dr Kautoke.
“On a positive note, Mr English praised the PMA’s work and the relationship the Association has with the Pacific Islands. It demonstrates the importance of the health connection we have with these Island nations and New Zealand’s contribution to the health and wellbeing of our Pacific people.”
Dr Kautoke says the Pacific Mission was very beneficial in learning about the business world and connecting with Pacific leaders on various topics.
“In Niue, I met with the Minister of Health Hon Billy Tautalage and Matron Puasina Tatui. They both raised concerns about the increasing number of mental health patients and welcomed more discussions with the PMA.”
“I was also fortunate enough to meet the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Rt Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva and a few of his cabinet ministers and Tongan health leaders who are all looking forward to being part of the PMA Conference in Noumea in September.”
“This mission is not only a valuable opportunity to engage with the leaders of these countries on regional matters but also, to deepen understanding and strengthen the links between PMA and health leaders of these Islands,” says Dr Kautoke.
“It was indeed a blessing, privilege and an honour to be part of the delegation and I have connected with so many people who have an interest in PMA work.”