Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility project

A Tongan physiotherapist and rehab assistant is applying a plaster cast to a baby's leg, as part of their club foot services.

Need for services

Tonga’s civil society organisations, people with disabilities and disabling health conditions have expressed their need for improved rehabilitation services and appropriate mobility devices (including prosthetic and orthotic devices). The Ministry of Health recognise this demand and have been proactive in initiating the Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility (TRaM) project to expand the range of devices and develop the services they provide. Many people in Tonga require rehabilitation and mobility devices due to non-communicable diseases that result in secondary complications such as stroke and amputations.

The Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility (TRaM) project

The Tonga Rehabilitation and Mobility (TRaM) project is a twenty-nine month project (February 2018 to June 2020) implemented in partnership by Motivation Australia and the Tongan Ministry of Health.

Together we aim to:

  • Create consistent, equitable and sustainable access to appropriate mobility devices.
  • Increase access to rehabilitation and other services to prevent secondary complications for those at risk, including children and adults with disabilities, NCDs and the frail aged.

The partners will achieve this by strengthening the capacity of the current physiotherapy department and expanding the mobility device services available at Vaiola Hospital. Due to the number of diabetic related amputations in Tonga, the expanded physiotherapy department will also work closely with the National Diabetes Centre to expand Diabetic Foot Care. Project activities include: renovating and equipping new facilities, training a range of personnel (both in Tonga and overseas), creating service systems, purchasing a stock of appropriate devices, and expanding the scope of services provided at Vaiola Hospital.

Rehabilitation is one of the five key areas of Universal Health Coverage, as detailed in Tonga’s National Health Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Prioritising rehabilitation is important because it can reduce the impact of disability and functional loss. All people will likely require some form of rehabilitation and/or assistive technology at some point in their life.

Mobility devices such as wheelchairs, walking aids, prosthetic and orthotic devices can improve a person’s health, independence and participation in their community.

Diabetic Foot Care is a key service for preventing and treating diabetic foot wounds, in order to reduce the numbers of avoidable diabetic amputations. Orthotic offloading devices are used to aid wound healing.

Alignment and partnership

The project aligns closely with Tongan Government priorities including: improving health delivery systems, developing the health workforce, strengthening supports and improving access to health care for people with disabilities, expanding the range of assistive devices available, creating a society inclusive of people with disabilities, strengthening existing NCD initiatives and reducing avoidable amputations. The project also aligns with the Australian Government’s Development for All Strategy 2015-20, the Tonga Aid Investment Plan and will contribute to the Tonga Health Sector Systems Support Programme 2 (THSSP2).

The Ministry of Health is responsible for the delivery of health services in Tonga. The expanded mobility device services of the physiotherapy department at Vaiola Hospital will be staffed by trained Tongan personnel during and after the project.

Motivation Australia is a not for profit disability and development organisation that works in partnership with local organisations to enhance the quality of life of people in the Asia Pacific region, including rural and remote Australia.

Project funders

The project is funded by the Ministry of Health, with funds provided through the Australian Government’s Disability Inclusive Development (DID) programme.

TRaM project partners also acknowledge LDS Charities who are supporting the service by donating a range of appropriate wheelchairs and walking aids.

If you are interested in more information about the project please contact:

Physiotherapy Department, Vaiola Hospital

Siosaia Vakasiuola or

Sione Po’uliva’ati

23200 ext.1460

Motivation Australia

Ray Mines

+676 8860108

+61 (0)404495275

Lauren Flaherty

+61 (0)401331770