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Featured personality: POLHN focal point for Tonga – Simaima Filiai

Published on: 13 June, 2017

“I really believe POLHN is an amazing platform; it holds the key to the future of people in the Pacific and around the world.” – Simaima Filiai, POLHN focal point for Tonga

Simaima Filiai is a health project officer at the Tongan Ministry of Health. She also works with POLHN as its focal point for Tonga. She recently spoke to the POLHN team to share some of her experiences.

What is your role within POLHN?

As a POLHN focal point, I coordinate all POLHN-related activities in Tonga. This includes marketing of the POLHN program internally to our Ministry of Health and outer island hospitals, processing POLHN applications, and invigilating POLHN examinations. I also plan and run all POLHN activities and workshops in Tonga.

Tonga is quite a small place. Do you think POLHN has made an impact there?

Tonga has an estimated population of 104,000 people, with only 1,000 health care staff. At Vaiola Hospital, nursing students have been benefiting from POLHN for the last 5 years. It has enhanced their capacity building and development, and focuses in particular on public health. POLHN has increased not only these nurses’ skills and knowledge, but also assisted many nurses to upgrade their health qualifications through sponsored diplomas from FNU. Paramedics in Tonga have also obtained certificated from POLHN-sponsored courses from the Pacific Paramedical Training Centre. POLHN has really helped health care professionals deliver higher quality and more effective health care services in the Kingdom of Tonga.

What is your favourite part about being a POLHN focal point?

I really enjoy being a POLHN focal point because I can help the health staff here in Tonga to continue to gain more knowledge. I also enjoy helping them get motivated, especially staff that left school a long time ago that then need to study again. When there is a lot of work to do, some health workers have trouble managing all their tasks. There are also some that don’t have any clinical knowledge, such as cleaners, so it is a nice opportunity for me to help them to learn more about ideas that will help them in their daily work. Being a POLHN focal point is a blessing, I love motivating and advising our staff to help bring better services and a better future to our people here in Tonga.

What is your most memorable POLHN experience?

I really love sharing with others and I’m always trying to learn new things.  Some health staff thought they couldn’t have an opportunity to study more, but POLHN has given them hope. It’s really nice to be a part of that. It’s also amazing to be a member of the POLHN family, which is made up of focal points from 19 Pacific island countries. I also love getting to know my POLHN family and I enjoy working with them to build up the capacity building of all areas of POLHN.