PMA Annual Conference officially opens

unnamed (3)The 19th annual conference of the Pasifika Medical Association kicked off this morning, 24 August 2016, with the theme “The pathway to leadership is service” at the Rendezvous Hotel in Auckland.

The conference was officially opened by the message from by Her Royal Highness Princess Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Tuita of Tonga, highlighted the contributions of PMA, particularly in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Association and the invaluable role that PMA and its members have play in New Zealand and the Pacific region.

“Over the past 20 years I have observed the members of the Pasifika Medical Association working tirelessly to improve the health of the people in their countries, to improve health systems, to encourage young people to enter the health professions.”

“I have seen them operate at all levels of society, as Prime Ministers and Presidents, as health leaders, as leading academics, as humble village community workers, everywhere you look you see a member of the Pasifika Medical Association,” says HRH Princess Pilolevu.

HRH commended the Association in their ability to respond to different Island nations need when a disaster hit.

“We remember the leadership shown by PMA following the tsunami in Samoa, the support provided to Tonga following the Ashika tragedy and the response that was activated following the Cyclone Pam disaster in Vanuatu with many PMA members moblised to provide volunteer support.”

“Again we saw this in action most recently in Katikati several weeks ago when 5 sons of Tonga tragically lost their lives. PMA members provided support to the families, activated their Pasifika Futures Ltd partners in the form of the Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers Association who were and continue to offer immediate support for the families involved.”

Dr Joe Williams, Patron of PMA welcomed all members and partners and thanked those who contributed to the success of the annual conference. On his remark, he indicated the strong role of the Association for strengthening the Pacific health workforce and meeting the health needs of Pacific people in the region.

Keynote speaker Dr Colin Tukuitonga Director General, Secretariat Pacific Community addressed the delegates about the 20 years of progression in Pacific Health and the changing landscape of the medical industry.

Pasifika Medical Association Chief Executive Mrs Debbie Sorensen says for the last 20 years, the Pasifika Medical Association has made a positive difference and played a major role in shaping the health landscape by playing a key role in helping to develop a Pacific health workforce, create career pathways for Pasifika students and improve the health and wellbeing of communities in NZ and across the Pacific.

“The 20th Anniversary is a great achievement for our organisation and it’s an exciting milestone for all our members and partners as a step forward in the positive relationship PMA has forged with many organisations to provide a strong voice on issues that impact on Pacific health and wellbeing.”

After the official opening, delegates went into parallel and plenary sessions, discussing a wide range of topical issues including the role of Medical Councils and Associations in the Pacific, focusing how New Zealand can support the improvement in the registration and regulation of clinicians in Pacific countries, perspectives on Pacific leadership, women leading change and a session on kava as a commodity.

The conference brought together more hundred advocates, researchers, health professionals and other stakeholders from all over NZ and the Pacific.