Pacific Anaesthesia

Pacific Aid

As a member of the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, the NZSA is committed to improving anaesthesia services in the Asia Australasia region. Our Pacific neighbours are the NZSA’s priority for educational assistance and collegial support. Our support has enabled anaesthetists from Pacific nations to attend international educational meetings or refresher courses. This has been via sponsorship and through organising locum anaesthetists to cover lists while Pacific anaesthetists are away. The Society has also assisted in organising emergency relief cover when needed.

A number of New Zealand anaesthetists have experience working in Samoa, Rarotonga, Indonesia and Fiji and find contributing their skills and expertise to overseas aid a rewarding experience. To find out about the Pacific Society of Anaesthetists and the services they provide, click here. The NZSA hosts this site as part of its ongoing commitment to the Pacific.

Free NZSA Associate membership for Pacific Anaesthetists. If you wish to take up this offer please email

Pacific Society of Anaesthetist’s 2019 Conference

The PSA Annual Refresher Course took place 26-28 August 2019 at Shangri-La Resort, Yanuca Island, Fiji. It was an exciting three days of interaction with a disaster preparedness theme, featured high quality speakers who are leaders in the specialities of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care. This was also a special meeting, being the 30th one.

This followed with 3 days of Pacific Society business 29-31 August 2019 which continued to need Locum cover while the Pacific anaesthetists were having their Society meeting and business workshop.

Save the Date: The next PSA Annual Refresher Course will be held in Lautoka, a tentative date as been set for 19-23 September 2020.

Pacific Society of Anaesthetists

C/- Department of Anaesthesia & Intensive Care
Colonial War Memorial Hospital
P.O. Box 115, Suva, Fiji Islands


Current office holders:
Dr Jocelyn Christopher – President
Dr Tekeua Uriam – Vice President
Dr Sherene Prasad – Secretary
Dr Maika Seru – Treasurer

Their trusted assistants are as follows:
Dr Shem Bavou – Back up VP
Dr Emily Fuakilau – Back up Secretary
Dr Asela Namedre – Back up Treasurer

Aims of the PSA:
The objectives of the Society are:

        1. To advance the science and art of anaesthesia in the Pacific.
        2. To further the professional education and training of anaesthetists generally.
        3. To facilitate the exchange of knowledge between Pacific anaesthetists and overseas colleagues.
        4. To encourage publications from Pacific anaesthetists.
        5. To enhance the professional status of anaesthetists in the Pacific and to seek cordial relations between them, other scientific workers, and medical organisations.

The Society was formed in 1989 with the help and support of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA). Major funding for its Annual Refresher Course comes from the Australian Government and also the NZSA. Courses were mostly held in Fiji, but since 2005 it has been held outside Fiji in alternate years in countries such as Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa.


In the Pacific, distances are immense and professional isolation is a major problem. Refresher courses for anaesthetic staff help to address this isolation and courses are held regularly in the South Pacific, Micronesia (northern Pacific) and in Papua New Guinea.

South Pacific courses are held annually and organised by the Pacific Society of Anaesthetists. The NZSA has supported these courses for some years by covering the expenses of visiting teachers from New Zealand and by providing locum cover so that Pacific anaesthetists can attend the meeting.

If you would like to help, please contact Wayne Morriss

Primary Trauma Care (PTC)

PTC is a two-day course which teaches basic trauma management and is designed for doctors and nurses working in resource-poor environments. The first PTC course was held in Fiji in 1997 – since then the course has been taught in over 40 countries. In the Pacific, PTC has been taught in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Vanuatu.

The course uses a combination of lectures, skills stations, discussion groups and scenario teaching. Some participants also take part in a one-day instructor course and responsibility for running courses is soon handed over to these local teachers.

Wayne Morriss is the PTC Pacific Coordinator. Opportunities to help with PTC come up from time to time. For more information contact Wayne

Donations – Pacific Fund

Aligned to the Society’s Strategic Plan and ongoing desire to support our anaesthetic colleagues in the Pacific, the NZSA has established a Pacific Fund.

  • The Fund has been set up to specifically assist the provision of anaesthetic services in the Pacific region.
  • Those wishing to contribute to this can do so directly by donation to this Fund.
  • Please contact the NZSA for further information.
  • The NZSA is a registered charity, however overseas donations are not tax deductible.

Rarotonga Hospital

The NZSA, as part of its wider role in anaesthesia education and in its capacity as a registered charity, has made a commitment to assist as needed in the Pacific region. Ted Hughes (whose family is from Atiu) and John Wilson from New Zealand Army aid work had forged links with Rarotonga Hospital, so Rarotonga seemed a logical place to start.

And further, in the sense that charity begins at home, the Cooks has, since 1906, been firmly associated with New Zealand. Many New Zealanders holiday there, Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens, use New Zealand currency, are schooled in English using mainly a New Zealand curriculum, and many Cook Islanders live and train in New Zealand.

Aware of a present need, in June 2009 an NZSA team visited Rarotonga Hospital to investigate how the Society could help improve anaesthesia services. The team consisted of Ted Hughes – anaesthetist; Lyall Trethowen – anaesthetic technician; Ivan Batistich – biomedical engineer and Margaret Blakeley – engineer.  At a later date, Ted Hughes also visited hospitals at two of the outer islands, Atiu and Aitutaki, in addition to attending the Cook Islands Health Conference.

The team produced a detailed report with recommendations of changes the hospital could make and ways that NZSA could help. Some of its suggestions have already been implemented by the hospital management. Assistance by the NZSA to date has taken a number of forms. An important one is the training of anaesthetic staff and providing cover for them. The hospital has a single anaesthetist and one anaesthetic technician who are permanently on call. Cover has enabled them to take much needed leave and to attend courses.

Members are encouraged to assist with this work (contact The Cook Island Ministry of Health cannot pay a salary, but airfares may be paid and a per diem allowance can be made to cover expenses. Some NZSA members working in the public sector may be able to claim the work as a sabbatical, or request special leave with pay. The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists may also be prepared to view it as a continuing medical education activity.

Other ways to assist include sourcing donations of machinery. Auckland City and Gillies Hospitals gifted several anaesthetic machines which were accepted by the NZSA for use in Rarotonga under our auspices. NZSA members have been filling up a container to be shipped to Rarotonga with equipment deemed surplus to requirements in New Zealand hospitals.

If you can help source an item, the most suitable equipment for an environment like the Cook Islands is not the latest electronic equipment but a previous generation of equipment which is much more robust and needs less maintenance. For example, a number of hospitals in New Zealand were found to have decommissioned pneumatic gas-driven machines held in storage after being retired from use.

Probably the most important function of a mission such as this is establishing relationships between staff at Rarotonga Hospital and their counterparts in New Zealand. When NZSA members and supporters have been working there we have tried to facilitate this as much as possible.

Samoan Tsunami

The tsunami which devastated coastal parts of Samoa in 2009 touched many New Zealanders. The New Zealand Ministry of Health sent surgical and medical teams to help out. Two members of the Executive Committee, first Alan Goodey then Ted Hughes, went to Samoa. Both acted as anaesthetist and chef-de-mission for the first three weeks of the New Zealand deployment. Alan Goodey has previously acted as anaesthetist for New Zealand surgical teams doing aid work in Samoa, and because he was so familiar with the requirements and situation there he was chosen by the New Zealand Ministry of Health to lead the first team in after the tsunami.

Executive Committee Response

The NZSA will advertise locum positions free for members and will waive the cost of advertising on the NZSA website to fill any position vacated by New Zealand anaesthetists who volunteer to provide aid to regions such as the Pacific.

Overseas Aid Sub-Committee

The NZSA’s Overseas Aid SubCommittee (OAS) supports anaesthesia training and development in overseas countries, in particular our nearest Pacific neighbours. The OAS facilitates our commitment to overseas aid and works with two other committees in Australasia, the Overseas Development and Education Committee (ODEC) of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists and the ANZCA Overseas Aid Committee (OAC). The subcommittee was formed at the 2010 ASM in Christchurch. For more information about the OAS click here.