Sela Sausini Pele Paasi
BApplSc (Nursing) 1991
Chief Nurse of Tonga since 2009
The main responsibility of the chief nurse of any country is to assist the government achieve the country’s population health goals through nursing and midwifery, and provide expert policy and technical advice and recommendations. In Tonga, the chief nurse is responsible for the three main divisions including clinical (hospital and health centres), the nursing school and the community health nurses. There are 282 registered nurses (midwives inclusive) and 91 student nurses. These registered nurses work in various environments across the three main groups of Tonga.
Sela Paasi began her career as a nurse with general certificate training in Bundaberg in 1967. In 1970 she moved to Hobart where she did her midwifery training and in 1971 moved in to maternal and child health in Brisbane. From 1973 to 1974, Mrs Paasi undertook a theatre course at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1975 she left Australia to work in Tonga. She returned in 1990 to do her Bachelor of Nursing at Cumberland College where she graduated in 1992.
In her leadership role she finds the shortage of both nurses and resources to be her greatest challenges. The main reason for the shortage of nurses is that most of the new diploma graduates are leaving Tonga for better opportunities abroad. There is also a shortage of senior nurses with competent leadership skills.
Tonga has recently built a new nursing school facility. Mrs Paasi and the principal of the Nursing School have been working on developing the nursing curriculum towards a Bachelor of Nursing degree. Currently, there is also work towards developing a new curriculum for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) for nurses who will be specialising in this particular area. NCDs has been declared a national crisis for Tonga.
In joint collaboration with the Community Health Nurses, Mrs. Paasi robustly worked towards having Tonga declared by the WHO to have achieved the regional milestone of reducing the chronic hepatitis B infection rate to less than 2 percent among children who are at least five years old. This is indeed a remarkable public health achievement through the commitment of the Community Health nurses work in immunisation. Tonga is the fifth member state in the Pacific Region to have demonstrated this milestone.
Sydney Nursing School is honoured to assist Mrs Paasi in developing their Bachelor of Nursing curriculum and in revising their Midwifery curriculum.