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New LBJ board member told “Do the right thing” and carry on the work

Aifili Dr. John Tufa and Francine Amo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — “Do the right thing” was the appeal by Senators to Aifili Dr John Tufa during his brief confirmation hearing as a member of the LBJ hospital board.

Aifili appeared before the Senate yesterday morning where Senators Tuiasina Dr Salamo Laumoli and Fonoti Tafa’ifa offered encouraging comments given the ongoing issues at the hospital in terms of the management and also patients being sent off island for medical treatment.

Aifili was appointed by Governor Lemanu P. S. Mauga to replace Vice Chair of the Board Dr Jean Anderson whose term is due to expire later this month.

During the hearing, Senator Tuiasina firstly commended Afili for his work during and the COVID-19 pandemic where he was at the forefront for the Department of Health as the epidemiologist.

Tuiasina noted that Aifili has been appointed to the board at the time the hospital is going through a number of changes.

“I am a bit concerned that your appointment as a board member comes at a time the hospital is going through a number of changes and the truth is, the hospital continues to [be] face[d] with problems whereas [the Board] made the necessary changes. However now one of those people that made those changes has been replaced, and leaves one more on the board that will continue to see through these changes,” said Tuiasina.

The Senator was referring to Vice Chair Dr Jean Anderson and Chairman Dr Malouamaua Tuiolosega.

He further appealed to Aifili to go forward with caution and carry on the work of Dr Anderson.

“Please put a stop to all the issues arising out from the hospital. Let me remind you, healthcare should not be politicized, this is the healthcare of our people,” said Tuiasina.

Senator Malaepule Fuega Moliga made a motion to release the witness and put forth his nomination for a vote.

However Senator Fonoti Tafa’ifa took the floor to have her say.

“Looking at what is happening now, people are taken overseas for medical check and overseas doctors when I go for my medical, ask me where are the Samoan doctors, why are people being sent off island for medical purposes?” Fonoti said.

Furthermore the Senator noted that it’s embarrassing that when she visited her doctor, all her medication was thrown in the rubbish.

“Our hospital is ordering cheap medication for us and my doctor overseas threw it away and that is embarrassing,” said Fonoti.

“Also don’t take sides when you are approved as member of the board, speak the truth,” she said.

During the vote all 12 Senators in attendance voted yes for Aifili. According to the Senate Resolution, Aifili’s term as a board member is effective March 31, 2023 with the expiration term dated March 30, 2024.

“His dedication to the study of health care throughout the Pacific region as well as his experience in epidemiology would make him an asset to the Board,” the resolution read.