When I was President of the NZ Society of Anaesthetists and also as Chair for Australia and NZ of the Anaesthesia Continuing Education for five years I oversaw more than a hundred national and international conferences across Australia and New Zealand so I can give your readers some outside feedback on the Rarotonga Health Conference.
It was very well run and the standout feature to me was Leadership. The big issues discussed included obesity, diabetes, smoking and the heart problems they cause along with alcohol.
Normally at NZ and Australian meetings we doctors discuss these types of issues all day long – then in the evening when we have the conference dinners we eat huge amounts, drink huge amounts and often smoke.
In Rarotonga it was smoke-free, alcohol-free, sugary-drinks-free and the plate for the evening conference dinners was “all-you-can-eat” off a bread and butter plate or a hand-sized large leaf!
There are future plans to get Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro and Rakahanga racing each other to become the first “smoke-free” islands in the Pacific.
I love that the spiritual dimension of ill-health is not ignored in Rarotonga as our meeting each day opened and closed with a prayer asking God to help us do our work and the nurses singing hymns moved me to tears.
In Rarotonga last week, you should know your nurses, doctors and health department staff didn’t just talk the talk – they truly walked the walk and led by example.
It was a great conference and as I return to New Zealand, I will try to eat and drink less! Thank you Rarotonga.
Dr Ted Hughes