NZ donates colostomy bags to Samoa Cancer Society

New Zealand Stomal Therapy nurses have donated 18 boxes of colostomy bags to the Samoa Cancer Society.

The donation is part of a response to the cancer society’s request to assist gastric cancer patients for quality life after ostomy operations.

SCS CEO Shelley Burich says colostomy bags become an essential part of a patient’s everyday life after an operation so it is a priority for the SCS Team to ensure this service is readily available and consistent for patients especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

“The value of these bags to a patient with stomach/gastric cancer may not be so noticeable to the public eye, but it is such an enhancement to the patients’ quality of health care in an already tumultuous time in their life as a cancer patient”.

The Samoa Cancer Society (SCS) has always been able to supply its registered patients with colostomy bags at no cost through its partnership with a charity organization called The Australia Fund.

Since COVID-19 restrictions and with borders closed to international flights the society’s normal supply from Australia through a charity organization called The Australia Fund has been affected. .

The SCS CEO then contacted the the Stomal Therapy Nurses network working with the Counties Manukau District Health (CMDH) Board and Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.

The New Zealand High Commissioner in Samoa stepped in to cover freight costs and Pacific Forum Line helped with customs clearance and carnage.

“Within two days, the community nurses at Stomal Therapy unit in Middlemore Hospital had put together a total of 18 boxes of colostomy bags, urology bags and catheters as a donation to the Samoa Cancer Society.”

With supplies running short during the current lockdown, SCS had to refer patients to the Ministry of Health who were charging $3.50 per bag or $70 for a box of 20 and SCS says that as well as charging patients, the process to access the essential supplies was long and tedious.

“However the patient and caregiver found that navigating the pathway to get their supplies through the hospital system was lengthy and frustrating with costs of the bags unaffordable for some if not most of them, especially during these COVID19 times”.

With the announcement from government in April that the SOE would be extended, SCS Board and Team had to top up its supplies from fhe Ministry of Health. SCS had actually purchased colostomy bags from MOH to help alleviate the financial burden of its patients.

“Being an NGO, we are reliant ourselves on donations and donor funding for sustainability and realized that the current option of purchasing bags from MOH was not going to be a sustainable solution”.