Overseas medical cost a concern: Samoa PM Fiame

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa

Samoa’s Government remains concerned about the affordability of overseas treatment for non-communicable diseases, says Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. 

The Prime Minister made the comments when she gave the keynote address during the celebration of International Yoga Day last week.

“We all are aware that non-communicable diseases like heart diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases and cancers account for 74 per cent of all deaths globally and 80 per cent of all premature NCD deaths,” PM Mata’afa said.

“Samoa is not an exception. The Samoan Government is conscious of the increasing number of young people needing urgent overseas treatment for non-communicable diseases.

“One side, we are exploring ways to reduce the cost of overseas treatment for non-communicable diseases, at the same time we are also making efforts to make people of Samoa healthier by adopting better lifestyles and dietary habits.”

In the current financial year, a total of SAT$5 million (US$1.8 million) was initially allocated for overseas medical treatment, which was later topped up by another SAT$6 million (US$2.2 million). For the next financial year, $5 million (US$1.8 million) has been allocated for overseas medical treatment.

“As we completed the performance of International Day for Yoga here, Samoa became the first country in the world to celebrate this day in 2023,” said Mata’afa. “These international days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilise political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.

“World Health Organisation has also urged all its member states to help their citizens reduce physical inactivity, which is among the top ten leading causes of death worldwide, and a key risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.”

The Prime Minister said that she felt yoga was an invaluable gift to the entire world family by India’s ancient tradition and likened it to a “combo package” to address a person’s physical, mental and emotional health needs.

She added that the UN resolution on International Yoga Day highlighted the importance of individuals and populations making healthier choices and following lifestyle patterns that foster good health.   According to Mata’afa, the best part of yoga was that it can be practised by all ages, and all fitness levels and did not need any equipment other than just a simple mat.