Fiji Time: 8:35 AM on Tuesday 3 March

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A medical solution

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, March 03, 2015

IT is encouraging to know that a few of Fiji's remaining medical clinical specialists plan to put together ideas on ways Fiji can retain its specialists.

As our report yesterday stated, CWM Hospital head of Gynaecology Dr James Fong said they hoped to engage in constructive meetings and put together a log of claims to address this issue.

Dr Fong said one of the main reasons Fiji could not retain its clinical specialists was because of the unavailability of posts within the Health Ministry.

It does raise the issue of whether training is in relation to the requirements within the system.

He pointed out, "Training is going in one direction and establishment of posts and the process of establishing posts are a parallel entity so there is no discussion between those who do the training and those who establish the posts."

Interestingly Dr Fong said there were quite a few doctors who had already been trained and they were already doing specialist work, however, did not have posts that recognised them as specialists.

This then might raise the issue of appropriate recognition and the justification for training. The medical profession, however, requires constant training to allow us to keep up with changes around the world.

As we try to develop a health system that is strong and vibrant, there are obstacles before us which to some extent include migration of qualified nurses and doctors.

It is understandable why overseas work is attractive.

There was a time when instead of paying good packages to attract home-grown nurses, hospitals in some countries were recruiting in the Caribbean, the Philippines, India and Africa.

It seemed the driver then was money. Better working conditions, at least for nurses travelling over from less developed countries, were like perks.

The Fiji Nursing Association said in a statement in January 2011 that more than 60 nurses migrated in 2009 but the number declined in 2010.

On the other hand, 400 locally trained doctors opted for greener pastures over the past 10 to 15 years prior to 2011.

It is important steps are put in place to ensure home-grown qualified nurses and doctors remain in the country to provide quality health care services. Thus the effort by our medical clinical specialists must be acknowledged.

Arguably one of the best retention strategy is to increase the financial benefits for our doctors and nurses.

Attention should also be focused on their working conditions and the resources they are equipped with.

Nurses and doctors work long hours and, as is human nature, we sometimes forget to show them the respect and attention they deserve.

Maybe there is some truth after all to the notion that an effective cure for brain drain is to create opportunities and good working conditions for the gifted and well educated at home.

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