In February this year WCCC was invited to provide a session for doctors at Vaiola Hospital, the main hospital in Nuku’alofa. Facilitated by Lesley Young, Volunteer Service Abroad Advisor with WCCC who has experience in the New Zealand Ministry  of Health Violence Intervention Programme, the session gave statistics for Tonga and covered health impacts of gender based violence, the dynamics of violent relationships and an introduction to the ‘World Health Organisation clinical and policy Guidelines for Responding to Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence against women’.

The seventeen doctors who participated in the session showed different levels of understanding and this provided the opportunity for questions and useful discussion of a variety of issues. In most countries medical education does not address violence against women so many health professionals continue to see this as a criminal justice issue rather than a health concern. As they gained understanding the Head Psychiatrist stated “so what you are talking about is preventive psychiatry”.

The doctor in charge of the Outpatients  department supported the work of WCCC noting that,   in her work she saw the need for women to have a safe ‘women only’ place to go, where they can get help and know the perpetrator will not be able to access them.

Since employing a nurse as part of the  one-stop team WCCC has noted improved liaison with health services and it is hoped this session will assist with better health services for our clients.