Country Information

Tonga has a population of 107,000 (WHO,2016). Life expectancy at birth is 76 for females and 70 for males (WHO,2016), and the infant mortality rate is 16 per 1000 live births (WHO,2018). While there is considered to be very little absolute poverty in Tonga, with living standards having improved in recent years, the consequent increase in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease have increased to levels of epidemic proportions and prevalence rates are now higher than most industrialised countries.

Program History

Interplast conducted its first program to Tonga in 1984 and programs have been delivered approximately annually since. From 1995, funding has primarily been provided via the DFAT Pacific Island Project (PIP) managed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. The provision of cleft surgery remains a priority, especially for complex cases unable to be treated by the local surgeons.

Programs are generally held at the Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa, but outreach visits have also been delivered to the Prince Ngu Hospital on Vava’u.

Progress towards the development of local capacity to deliver plastic and reconstructive surgery services in Tonga has been strengthened in recent years by the involvement of the new generation of surgical registrars in Interplast programs. It is anticipated ongoing training and support will be required to develop these skills in the specialty area of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Interplast will continue to support the local surgeons and other medical staff with any training opportunities that may arise as well as providing other Tongan surgeons with training during Interplast visits to Nuku’alofa while providing continued access to reconstructive surgery services for the people of Tonga. Interplast is also now working with local allied health providers, to develop local capacity in hand therapy and since 2018, Interplast has been delivering annual nurse education programs namely around wound management & infection control.

Current Program

In the 2019/2020 financial year, Interplast will deliver a number of activities in Tonga, including a plastic and reconstructive surgical program, as well as nurse education and allied health training activities.

For more details, keep an eye on our Upcoming Programs, or get in touch with us!