Dr ‘Akau‘ola takes over as new Minister for Health after Dr Piukala’s move to WHO

Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola has been appointed as Tonga’s new Minister of Health.

Dr Siale Akau’ola

He is the former CEO for Health.

The appointment was marked at a ceremony this afternoon.

The Chief Secretary and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Paula Ma’u, handed over appointment documents and signed up the new minister.

Dr ‘Akauola and his wife posed for photos holding his appointment certificate.

He was CEO for Health for four years. Last year he marked 37 years as a civil servant with the Ministry of Health.

Dr ‘Akauola was at the forefront of Tonga’s fight against Covid-19 and oversaw the installation of a testing laboratory funded by India. He pushed for widespread vaccinations and set an early target of 70% immunisation.

He replaces Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala who took up a new position as regional director for the World Health Organisation in the Western Pacific.

Dr Piukala’s resignation has triggered a by-election. 

He has nearly three decades of experience working in public health in Tonga and across the region in areas including chronic diseases, climate change and disaster response.

A number of Cabinet appointments have yet to be ratified by the king.

Last year the Prime Minister said he had nominated a new Minister to replace former Minister of Fisheries Semisi Fakahau. That nomination has yet to be ratified by the king.

Reports at the time suggested the Prime Minister had also nominated a replacement for the Minister of Police.

Kaniva News has previously contacted the Prime Minister for comment.

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