By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The U.S. Interior Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report stating that physicians at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Medical Center (LBJ) in American Samoa are “left making guesses about patient diagnoses” due to a lack of medical specialists and critical equipment. According to the report, one of the most serious problems the hospital has is recruiting and retaining physicians and overworking the ones it does have. LBJ is the only hospital in American Samoa, which is home to 65,000 residents.
The report contains personal observations of the OIG and interviews of the staff members of the hospital, combining to provide an idea of the difficulties.
Togiola Tulafono, American Samoa’s Governor, claims the federal government should take part of the blame for the deteriorating standard of health care on the island. The governor said the reason the hospital cannot hire specialists and buy critical equipment is a lack of funds. Mr. Tulafono reported the hospital can only afford to pay specialists a third of the salary they would earn in Hawaii or the mainland.
The governor said the report was issued to coincide with the Health Summit sponsored by the government taking place this week in Honolulu. The report and finding solutions to specific issues it has pointed out will be topics of discussion at the Summit.
The governor left Sunday and will return Thursday. He has promised to brief the community when he returns.
For more information, please see:
Pacific Magazine – Togiola Welcomes Critical U.S. Report on Territory’s Medical Care – 30 September 2008
Radio New Zealand International – American Samoa Governor blames US government for problems at medical centre – 29 September 2008
Pacific Islands Report – Scarcity of Doctors Hampers Pago Hospital – 29 September 2008