Dr Meciusela Tuicakau, MB.BS, PGD.D M UK and Dr Margot Whitfeld MB.BS, DTM&H, FACD, both dermatologists, led the development of the Pacific Dermatology Training Centre with oversight from the Pacific Dermatology board and management by the Pacific Dermatology Trust, Suva. The training centre is supported by staff from the Fiji National University and the Australasian College of Dermatologists, and overseas lecturers, tutors and examiners.
The training centre is led by Dr Tuikacau, a highly respected figure in Fijian medical and government circles, with thirty years’ experience in the private and public health system. For two and a half years to July 2016, Dr Tuicakua was the Acting then Permanent Secretary for Health and Medical Services in Fiji. Prior to that appointment, Dr Tuicakau held the posts of Deputy Secretary General of Hospital Services and Medical Superintendent of PJ Twomey Hospital.
Dr Whitfeld has been visiting Fiji since 2003 for research and clinics. In partnership with Australian and Fijian researchers, research into endemic scabies has resulted in a radical decrease in the burden of this disease in Fiji. The research received support from the Australasian College of Dermatologists Scientific Research Fund, a National Medical Health and Research Council grant and funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via the Global Fund and the World Health Organisation. Dr Whitfeld also established the Fiji Albinism Project, dedicated to enabling people with albinism in Fiji to lead full lives, reduce skin cancer and increase survival.
In 2016, Dr Whitfeld investigated the feasibility of establishing a regional dermatology training centre for the Pacific and determined that the project should proceed. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Australian not-for-profit Pacific Dermatology has been able to commit funds and provides ongoing consultancy and fundraising to ensure the project’s success. Dr Tuicakau reports to the board of Pacific Dermatology Trust in Fiji. The mission of that trust is fully aligned with ours – to improve skin health in the Pacific region by increasing the number of qualified medical, nursing and allied health professionals practising in the region.