For Immediate Release: 20 April 2010

Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko one of only eight Samoans invited to Pacific leaders summit

Oceania University of Medicine Senior Clinical Lecturer, Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko was one of only eight Samoans in over 100 applicants selected to attend the second Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue (EPLD) last month.

The EPLD, an important regional leadership development initiative for Pacific Island countries, is funded and sponsored by government agencies, the private sector, and particularly the Australian government.

Under the conference theme of “Navigating our Future Together,” Toleafoa widely shared his own ideas about the need for strong and effective health leadership in Pacific island countries.

“Medical doctors can be a force helping to create positive change within health care systems. Leaders need to start and end all plans and policy development with patients’ clinical needs foremost in mind,” said Toleafoa.

“Leaders also need to invest in initiatives to sustain health interventions. This is of particular importance in the areas of sexually-transmitted diseases (HIV/AIDS) and non-communicable diseases (heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and injuries). How to mitigate the effects of globalization on distal and proximal determinants of health is one important topic that needs continuous dialoguing at all levels in the country,” he said at a recent press conference.

Representatives were divided into study/tour groups that followed numerous thought-provoking and intellectually-challenging sub-themes focusing on leadership and community development initiatives in a number of Pacific countries. The sub-themes were economic growth, regional co-operation and infrastructure, good governance, security, stability and strengthening communities, environment, industry, education, and health.

Toleafoa was part of the tour group to Tonga, a country at a defining moment in its political reform. He believes that understanding and respecting a country’s historical events, culture, and social environment is information that a prospective leader should never ignore when making assessments and recommendations.

“In the practice of medicine, this is so true because the culture and social environment where patients come from is an important determinant of health in a number of ways, especially their behaviour and attitudes toward food and illness. Doctors who ignore this will have trouble understanding the multiple, underlying causes of a patient‘s presentations and illnesses. Secondly, while leadership styles are all different, if I could define leadership by using one word; it has to be integrity. This is particularly true in the practice of medicine,” he added.

Located on the grounds of the National Hospital Complex in Apia, Samoa, Oceania University of Medicine offers a graduate entry, four-year medical education program to an international student body of approximately 100 healthcare professionals from five countries. Graduates are receiving their post-graduate specialty/residency training at teaching hospitals in Australia, Samoa, and the United States. Listed in the World Health Organization's World Directory of Medical Schools and recognized by the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the school is amid its formal accreditation process expected to be successfully completed in 2010. For more information about OUM, visit