Community Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

NO CLEAR ANSWER ON THE ISSUE OF CIGARETTE SHORTAGE

The supply of popular cigarette brands is almost non-existent, and smokers are having a hard time satisfying the urge for a ‘nicotine fix’.

Since last month, popular brands like Benson and Hedges (Lights and Regular) as well as Kool (long and short) have been absent from store shelves, leaving smokers to buy other brands like Marlboro (Red and Lights) just to get a puff.

There is no clear answer why there is a shortage of cigarettes, although smokers don’t seem to mind paying around $10 for a pack. That’s right. Less than two years ago, the average price for a pack of smokes was under $5. Last year, the price skyrocketed, with the average cost being somewhere between $7.50 and $8

Now, with the demand so high and the supply so low, storeowners have hiked the price-per-pack yet again. This time, up to $9- $10. Smokers who spoke to Samoa News say their only other option is to contact family members and friends flying in from off island, to bring them some cigarettes.

Travelers are allowed to bring in one carton of cigarettes without taxation when flying into the territory.

As of yesterday, some stores were completely out of cigarettes, while others were trying to sell off the last of their unpopular brands to those who ‘need’ to satisfy their cravings.

Samoa News should point out that it asked some if perhaps it was time to quit — which was met with silence. Just a suggestion… 

DYWA TO HOST MULUMULUGA VEVE TOMORROW

The Department of Youth & Women's Affairs (DYWA) will be hosting a special program tomorrow from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Pago Pago Youth Community Center.

Entitled: “Mulumuluga Veve” the program aims to provide services to residents of the Fagaloa area.

According to a statement from DYWA, “The Mulumulugā Veve is a one-stop service location that will host service providers from both the American Samoa Government and Non-Profit Organizations for two hours, so the community around the Fagaloa Area (Fagaalu to Aua), and towards the east-side of Tutuila can acquire the services they need. These services are usually for regular business hours, but come by and take advantage of this great event.”

Partner agencies and NGOs that will be represented at tomorrow’s event include: Argosy University, the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS), Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), AS Environmental Protection Agency (AS-EPA), ASCC-Land Grant, Admissions, and Financial Aid Office; Department of Education School Lunch Program, GHC Reid and Co., Department of Commerce (DOC), Office of Protection and Advocacy for the Disabled (OPAD), Department of Human Resources (DHR), Tradewinds Hotel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), recruiters from the United States Army, the Alliance, and the USDA’s Soil and Water Conservation Program.

The event is free of charge and everyone is invited. There will also be raffle prizes.

More information can be obtained by calling DYWA directly at 644-2835/2836 or email <liapelenato@gmail.com>

PUBLIC VOICES CONCERN OVER DOH CLINIC HOURS

Local residents who stopped by the Department of Health’s (DOH) Tafuna Health Clinic last week were not happy when they were unable to receive service.

Apparently, according to a note posted on the door of the clinic, closures without notice will occur because there is a critical staffing shortage and therefore, they would not be able to open for after-hour appointments as usual.

The notice also directs people to the LBJ Medical Center in Fagaalu and states that unannounced closures will occur, until the staffing shortage issue is resolved.

Samoa News received numerous complaints from people who use the Tafuna Health Clinic for after-hour purposes.

Currently, there is a serious staffing issue at the LBJ Medical Center, not only with nurses, but also physicians for the Pediatric Clinic.

Samoa News understands that some of the medical staff from DOH have been called in to work some hours at the LBJ Hospital to help alleviate the staffing problem.

“So it now seems to be a circular problem, in that clinics are referring folks to LBJ, who is also suffering the same problem,” said one local resident. “Since it is tax season, I think we are all wondering — where is that 2% wage tax going that was meant to go to LBJ?” the resident continued.

The problem apparently goes deeper than just an unannounced closure. Samoa News understands that the prenatal clinic will remain closed until further notice – or until Governor Lolo Moliga gives the green light - as the employees have not received a paycheck in over a month.

Efforts to contact DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua were unsuccessful as of press time.

PRIMARY CARE IN FAGAALU IS NOW A “WALK-IN” SERVICE

When the Primary Care Clinic was at the LBJ Medical Center, it was God-send for many, especially the elderly, looking for a quick doctor’s check-up, renewal of prescription medication, and just a health ‘report card’.

The Primary Care Clinic has since moved under the umbrella of the Department of Health and was operating with the same routine which was: schedule an appointment, pick up an order for lab work, and wait for your scheduled visit date.

Things have changed though. Earlier this month, Samoa News visited the Primary Care Clinic at DOH and saw a notice that said appointments will no longer be taken, “walk-ins only”.

It then gets confusing when you see the other notice, which states that lab work must be done at least two days prior to your appointment.

According to the doctors and nurses there, the notice is per DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua’s orders. They didn’t delve into details.

“Primary Care is where you go to STAY healthy,” said one irate elderly woman who spoke to Samoa News. “Yes, there are times when we do a walk-in when we are not feeling up to par, but not bad enough to go the Emergency Room.

“We go to make sure we won't get worse. We set up our appointments every 6 months to see the doctor to make sure we stay healthy and have our lab work done. People have jobs. They do not like to just do a walk-in and sit for four or so hours, because too many people have the same idea on the same day,” she continued.

Samoa News spoke to a DOH official who said that the “walk-in” concept is really not a big change, as people with appointments generally have to wait – sometimes for over an hour – just to be seen. “If you look at it that way, the wait time will be the same as ‘walking in’,” she said.

Samoa News attempts to contact DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua for comments were unsuccessful as of press time.

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