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New Zealand is to put $6.1m towards expanding specialist health services and addressing non-communicable diseases in Samoa, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Mr English announced the funding, to be spread over five years, during a visit to Tupua Tamasese National Hospital, in Apia today. While at the hospital, Mr English met with patients and staff, and had the opportunity to see first-hand how New Zealand’s investments in infrastructure and support of the national health system are benefitting the people of Samoa.

The new programme includes more support for telemedicine,  funding for the specialist treatment of Samoan patients in New Zealand hospitals, and support to address non-communicable diseases, and reproductive, maternal, new-born and child health.

“The health of the Samoan population is improving overall. Life expectancy has increased and is the highest in the Pacific. Infant and child mortality rates are also low relative to other countries with similar incomes and per capita health spending. But serious challenges still remain, including the death and disability caused by chronic and non-communicable diseases,” Mr English says.

“Samoa is making impressive strides in areas such as maternal and child health, but we can provide more help by supporting the Samoan system to deliver quality and equitable health services.”

The assistance builds on the strengths of the existing partnership between Counties Manukau Health and Samoa’s National Health Service, and will improve both access to and the quality of health services for local communities.

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