31 Jul 2006

Samoa's opposition leader criticises plan for patients to pay own airfares

5:50 am on 31 July 2006

Samoa's Opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, has criticised a Cabinet decision that will leave patients referred overseas for treatment paying their own airfares.

The Samoa Observer reports that at present a patient's airfare and half the fare of the person accompanying them is paid for by the Government.

The Prime Minister said the government would continue to pay for all medical expenses overseas.

But Le Mamea says he finds this incredulous and has asked what has happened to the millions of tala the government said would be saved from establishing a dialysis unit.

He said requiring patients to pay their own airfares was the Government's way of discouraging overseas referrals.

The Opposition Leader said it was unrealistic to expect people living in rural villages, and lower income families, to pay their own airfares.