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New DOH director sets goals to upgrade services

Retired U.S. Army CSM Motusa Tuileama To’atolu Nua was unanimously confirmed in the House in a 19-0 vote and a passing vote of 14-2 in the Senate, as director of the Department of Health. The one hour confirmation hearing was held yesterday before the House Health/Public Health Committee chaired by Rep Maugaoalii Sipa Anoa’I, where issues pertaining to NCD, Health Regulatory Board, a clinic in Aunu’u, and house visits by DoH nurses were discussed.The newly confirmed health director informed the Representatives that a team from DoH will be heading out to Manu’a on March 3, 2013 to conduct home visits and assessing the health needs of every one in Manu’a.All the representatives who spoke during the hearing praised Motusa given his long term service in the military and returning home to serve the people and government of American Samoa. His announcement of their visit to Manu’a came after Aunu’u lawmaker Rep Talaimatai Su'a asked if they are looking at building a clinic in Aunu’u, seeing as there are health clinics in Leone, Tafuna and Amouli.Rep Talaimatai said that often, due to bad weather and rough seas, the people of Aunu’u who need medical treatment are not able to cross over to Tutuila.Motusa informed lawmakers that in two weeks, after returning from Manu’a, they will also visit Aunu’u to conduct health assessments for the villagers and they will also try to find a place to store oxygen tanks, first aid packages and other medication needed for emergencies, until the patients are able to cross over to Tutuila Island during bad weather.He added that they will also conduct home visits to villages for the elderly people who refuse to go to the hospital. The issues surrounding Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) was brought to Motusa’s attention by Tualauta Rep Larry Sanitoa. The lawmaker said that the most critical problem in the territory is people’s health, noting there was bilateral summit held last year November, which highlighted a lot of the critical issues facing the territory.“It was then revealed to no surprise that our people are dying young and also that 60% of death in our community in 2010 was caused by NCD’s, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems and over the past three years diabetes is the number one killer in our community. It was also revealed that American Samoa is the fattest country in the world. Aside from the financial situation, health would be the number one issue in the territory, he said, adding, \ aside from personal impact to family it has a huge impact on our government\\If we are talking about economic development- it’s very difficult when you have a sick community”.Sanitoa told Motusa that the number one priority for the DoH should be prevention and the lack of a national plan is a reality that should be closely monitored given the health status of the territory. Motusa explained that he has met with members of the cancer coalition and was informed that he is the Chairman of the NCD board