ASUM Outreach and Canon Medical Bring Ultrasound Training to Tonga’s Vaiola Hospital

In true essence of our ‘Made For life’ philosophy, following the volcanic tsunami event that occurred in Tonga 2022, Canon Medical ANZ partnered with ASUM Outreach to provide meaningful, long-term assistance through an ultrasound training program for the imaging department at Vaiola Hospital.
Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 South Pacific islands, many uninhabited. It’s population is 107,995. (As of 5 June 2022 sourced from

Most of the Tongan population lives in three major island groups, and nearly three-fourths live on Tongatapu Island. The urban population has been steadily growing and now accounts for about one-third of the total population. Tonga has one national referral hospital, three community hospitals, 14 health centres and 34 reproductive and child health clinics. About 90% of health services are provided at hospitals. There are few specialists at the national referral hospital.
In preparation for our first visit to Tonga, ASUM's dedicated team, including Brett Ayers from Canon Medical, collaborated closely with Lei’aloha Makaafi, the chief radiographer/sonographer, to assess the specific needs of sonographers in Tonga, spanning both Vaiola Hospital and the remote outer islands. This collaboration steered our program’s focus towards obstetric ultrasound techniques.

The Australasian team, comprising Jo McCann, Peter Coombs, and Karen Le and Brett Ayers provided online lectures to our colleagues in Tonga, including optimisation strategies, 1st trimester scans, 3rd trimester and wellbeing, and basic fetal heart.
The first phase of this two-year initiative brought the ASUM Outreach team to the Imaging Department at Vaiola Hospital for four days. This focused period allowed for maximum clinical learning and training, alleviating the pressures of patient lists. Vaiola Hospital had specifically requested training in fetal heart examinations and third-trimester ultrasound, recognising that many of their patients present later into pregnancy.

The engagement and dedication of the Vaiola Hospital team was remarkable, with 15 staff members participating in the training, including two radiographers from the outer islands and registrars from both radiology and obstetrics. Each day commenced with early-morning lectures and case reviews, followed by hands-on training.
The knowledge and skills that I learnt from this training will definitely benefit the community by allowing me to provide quality patient care and a better diagnosis.”

- Amelia (radiographer/sonographer)

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A second Outreach in-person visit to Tonga focused on vascular imaging is planned for November 2023.

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