Palliative Care Updates from Samoa

Submitted by: Ms Alice Every

“Palliative Care in Samoa: Everyone, Everywhere”

The importance of palliative care to improve the quality of life of patients and their families was one of the messages behind the 2018 Samoa Palliative Care Forum, held on the 28th & 29th May and co-hosted by the Samoa Cancer Society and the Ministry of Health.

The forum aimed to help progress the development of a coordinated approach to delivering palliative care within Samoa by creating a platform to hear perspectives from all aspects of service provision and to look at strengths and opportunities. Over 100 people attended from a range of backgrounds, including health professionals, managers, health non-governmental organisations and patients and family and supporting countries including New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.

At the opening, the Minister of Health Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama said that anyone who suffers from a terminal illness deserves to die with dignity and minimal suffering. He assured that the Government is committed to improving the level of palliative care in Samoa.

“Since 2010 there has been discussion within Samoa to develop a coordinated approach to deliver palliative care and since this time there have been various training programmes, workshops and plenty of discussions.”

“The ongoing momentum has meant that now in 2018 there is increased knowledge in the broader health community about what palliative care is.”

He said it is regarded as a blessing that Samoans tend to their sick elders with so much pride, however, Samoa was one of the 42% of countries that have no palliative care services at all, acknowledging that “The need for palliative care has never been greater in Samoa.”

As a result of the forum, a working group will be established to begin the important work of developing and implementing National Palliative Care Guidelines for Samoa and integrating them into the existing health system.