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Here’s what’s in the $677,675 USDA telehealth grant for American Samoa

Amata with Motusa
Source: Media release from Cong. Uifaatali Amata's office

Washington, D.C. —  Friday, Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata detailed what’s in the telehealth grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will enhance local maternal health services. This federal funding relies in part on appropriations from Congress in 2020 COVID relief legislation. 

 “I readily welcome this grant from USDA as a much needed boost to healthcare services in American Samoa,” said Congresswoman Amata. “American Samoans know all too well the prohibitive costs of having to travel off-island for essential healthcare, or travel from Manu’a to Tutuila, and this grant will help decrease costs and reduce uncomfortable travel for some important maternal services.”

The grant to American Samoa would establish a maternal health program that would connect local providers at LBJ Tropical Medical Center and residents to specialists at the University of Hawai’i in Honolulu. It envisions reducing the need for travel and adding options for local health care providers through the provision of tele-guidance and distance learning in Maoputasi, Ta'u, Ofu and Tualauta, including ultrasound transmission between the health facilities for the input of medical advisers. 

This grant is part of USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, which aims to help rural or geographically distant parts of America gain more affordable and more efficient access to healthcare through the use of telemedicine.

In total, the USDA awarded $42.3 million dollars to over 30 states and territories to help more than 5 million rural residents. More than half of these funds were allocated by Congress in the first COVID-19 relief package passed last summer. In announcing the grants, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that they were “historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”

 “Congratulations to our local government agencies and grant writers who undoubtedly worked hard to get the people of American Samoa this vital support, LBJ Tropical Medical Center and our health care professionals that will utilize this connection, Health Director Motusa Nua, and Faumuina Taufete’e,” continued Amata. “Thank you to Secretary Vilsack and the USDA for showing this commitment to the territories.”