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November Monthly Spotlight Kaloafu (Kalo) Tavo

Kaloafu (Kalo) Tavo

We are excited to introduce our November 2021 Member Spotlight: Kaloafu (Kalo) Tavo. Kalo lives in Hamula, Tongatapu and is a physician in Tongatapu's Emergency Department. Friends of Tonga spoke with Kalo to learn more about her life and the work she does in the community.


Why did you become a doctor?

Ever since I was young, I have always admired the work that doctors do, especially helping others during their time of pain. I grew up in a family full of teachers and I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a career in a different field.

How long have you been a doctor and where did you go to school?

I attended Primary School in our small village from Class 1 to 6 and then Tonga High School for Form 1 to 7. After High School, I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to study at the Fiji School of Medicine for 6 years.


Since returning to Tonga, I have been working for the Tonga Ministry of Health for 10 years. For 2 of those years I lived and worked on the island of ‘Eua, and I currently work in the Emergency Department in Tongatapu. I also worked as the back up medical provider for the US Peace Corps for 3 years.

What are you most proud of professionally?


I am most proud professionally when my patients make it out of the Emergency Room! It's a great feeling after treating a patient and seeing them get better. The patient may not always remember you afterwards, but that is a great self reminder to stay humble. I wouldn't trade my job for any other.

What are you most proud of personally?

I am a very proud aunty! Time flies and I can never have enough time babysitting. The kids grow up so fast and are already becoming very cheeky.

 Can you tell us about your work in the community?


When I lived in ‘Eua, I worked at the hospital and led outreach to the community. I made home visits, conducted community outreach screening, and created awareness programs. I believe that reaching out to people and understanding them is the key to promoting better health at the community level.


What is your favorite part of living in Tonga?


The bond and togetherness of extended family, friends, neighbors, and religious beliefs.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Tongans currently? How can Tongans prepare for and/or mitigate that challenge?

I think the biggest challenge in regards to the health of Tongans is changing current lifestyles and maintaining a healthier one. I believe that through continuous education of our younger generation and community level outreach, we can help more Tongans better understand primary preventions and the impact of disease towards not only the individual and family but also the country as a whole.

How can Friends of Tonga and our community members support the efforts you and others are doing in Tonga?

I think it is great to see what FOT is working on, especially how FOT uses existing ties to Tonga and experience with Tongan education. It would be great if FOT extended its work into health education to help educate a younger generation of Tongans on healthier lifestyle and primary preventative methods. I believe the younger generation can be the voices to spread this awareness to the rest of their households.

What is your favorite Tongan food?


Lu and otai (drink) mango