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Health under scrutiny

Repeka Nasiko
Monday, August 18, 2014

A SURVEY conducted by the University of the South Pacific with a sample population of 102 revealed people were not satisfied with services provided by Nadi and Lautoka hospitals.

USP Economics lecturer Dr Baljeet Singh said the survey was conducted as part of the university's general survey of the country's health sector and its contribution towards economic growth.

"The first one is the waiting time in the two hospitals," Dr Singh said.

"People say on average, it takes more than 78 minutes to see a doctor.

"And from the population sample, only 78 per cent were able to see the doctor, only 35 per cent said they received medicine after seeing a doctor and only 37 per cent were satisfied with the kind of services that were provided to them.

"We broke down the survey into Nadi and Lautoka and saw the difference between Lautoka and Nadi. Generally, people are not really satisfied."

He said while the sector had been receiving infrastructure development, services still proved unsatisfactory.

"We all know that government is doing a lot to invest in the health sector in terms of infrastructure development but according to this survey, people's perception of the health sector is not very promising."

He said the health sector in the country continued to be one of the most neglected.

"The budget allocation for the health sector has actually declined. I think it was about 9.2 per cent in 2010 and it's gone to 7.7 per cent in 2014.

"However, talking about the infrastructure improvements in 2014, government was improving health centres, hospitals and providing medicine and equipment which are again commendable."

The USP lecturer said there was a need for more improvement to the sector.

"Some suggestions for improvements include increasing the number of doctors and nurses and their availability in key areas, especially in the rural centres, overhaul of medical equipment and improve government health policies."

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Eloni Tora said he would not be able to make a fair comment unless he saw and analysed the survey.

"No health service in the world is perfect simply because medical science is an imperfect science that needs to continuously make improvements to keep up with the changes of factors that affect how the service is run," he said.

"The health service in Fiji, while it is much better than a lot of other countries, still has a lot of room for improvement.

"A lot has been done in the past five years but while some of these developments will bring almost immediate effect, for example the extension of opening hours for the Suva health centres and the visit of the Sea Mercy to the islands, others will be fully felt some years down the line, like the effects of the Cabinet-endorsed increases of doctor and nurse posts cannot be realised immediately simply because it takes years to train doctors and nurses.

"The public should look forward and expect better health services in the future."





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