MORE than 70 new doctors will graduate from the Fiji School of Medicine this month, easing the strain on the public health system.
Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sigatoka Hospital maternity unit, Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said: "Human resources have always been a problem for us and to get doctors overnight is almost impossible.
"There are 74 doctors coming out soon and I'm quite sure some of them will go into clinical areas. Those that want to go into public health will of course be nurtured in that area."
Dr Sharma reiterated the recruitment of overseas doctors was also difficult.
"I've said this before, it is hard to get doctors into Fiji.
"The pay packet for these doctors is not sufficient for them to come over and the international market is very competitive.
"But we are doing our best and we can supply our own doctors.
He said the ministry had been under a lot of strain in previous years.
"What happens in Fiji, the large part of the work has been undertaken by government in the past.
"So a lot of strain has been put on the system especially with issues like internal migration happening.
"You will be surprised to see that one third of our population lives in the Suva to Nausori corridor."
He said mass movement from the eastern and northern islands had put a lot of strain on health services.
"What happens when people relocate, they lose their ability to use farmlands, the search for financial gain and educational opportunities for their children.
"As a result of this movement, we are facing some major struggles.
"So we need to relook at our strategies.
"How are we going to make use of our resources that are available to us and ensure that we prevent people from dying from NCDs and increasing the spread of communicable disease?"