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Provision of health services to Niue

5th December 2005

Memorandum of Understanding signed for provision of health services to Niue

An agreement recently signed means the people of Niue will have access to a range of health services both in the community and at their new hospital, currently under construction. The new hospital, set to open early in 2006, is being re-built at a new site following the devastation caused by Cyclone Heta last New Year’s Day.

New health services that will be offered come as part of an agreement signed between Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB), the Niue Ministry of Health and NZAID, the New Zealand agency for International Development (NZAID).

The agreement will see CMDHB staff coordinate training and development of Niue health professionals and facilitate Niuean referrals to CMDHB.

“This is an important relationship for Niue. It began with a meeting between the Niue Government and two New Zealand Ministers, Hon. Jim Anderton and Hon. Marion Hobbs in September 2004. At that meeting we discussed how New Zealand can help Niue rebuild our Health Systems and Services following the devastation of Niue by Cyclone Heta" says Niue Minister of Health Hon Fisa Igilisi Pihigia.

“I am pleased that those discussions have finally come to fruition. Health services are very important to Niue, particularly given our geographical isolation from immediate help. It is important that our island-based community has confidence that we can cope with most situations that are likely to arise. CMDHB has committed to helping Niue build services that are sustainable and can help us promote wellbeing for our population. Most importantly, CMDHB is committed to strengthening Niue’s health system to care for our own.”

The signing of the agreement was an equally momentous occasion for CMDHB. CEO Mr Stephen McKernan says “CMDHBs relationship with the Pacific is an important one, and not just because of the high number of Niueans living in Counties Manukau. The devastation of Niue by Cyclone Heta really touched us and we are pleased to be able to contribute to the strengthening of Niue’s health system. We look forward to a long and fruitful working relationship with Niue.”

The programme has begun with the appointment of Dr Kara Okesene-Gafa, a Middlemore and Niuean consultant Gynaecologist/Obstetrics specialist, as Director of Health for Niue. Dr Okesene-Gafa takes up her role in Niue for one year to support the establishment of the new Hospital and work with CMDHB to strengthen health services. CMDHB has also been providing General Practice and medical practitioner locum cover for Niue while longer term workforce issues are considered.

NZAID manages New Zealand's $8.8 million annual aid programme with Niue. Following Cyclone Heta, New Zealand and Niue signed the Halavaka ke he Monuina Arrangement to facilitate more effective cooperation between New Zealand and Niue Government Agencies. Following the Arrangement, New Zealand and Niue agreed on a $20 million programme focusing on capital and infrastructure projects.

A cornerstone of this has been the $6 million investment to rebuild Niue's hospital on a site which is less vulnerable to cyclone damage. The hospital is due for completion in February.

ENDS

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