HEALTH care in the country is undergoing a major metamorphosis with the availability of neurosurgery, open heart operations and advanced orthopaedic surgery by the end of this year at the country's two major hospitals.
Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma also unveiled plans for a national healthcare scheme that is being discussed in Cabinet, with a view to providing improved health services to all citizens of Fiji in the near future regardless of social and employment status.
Speaking at the commissioning of the Western Dialysis Centre at the Zen Lo Medical Centre yesterday, Dr Sharma said it was important everybody benefitted from whatever health care system that was introduced.
"We are looking at how we can ensure that all citizens of Fiji regardless of social standing or employment status has access to all types of health care available locally, especially so with the introduction of neurosurgery, open heart and advanced orthopaedic operations," he said.
Dr Sharma said government was looking at vehicles such as the Fiji National Provident Fund because of its established collection and payment system.
"Whatever system we introduce will have to be one that ensures that everyone from an office worker down to a farmer or even an unemployed person has access to health care. That is the challenge we are currently facing," he said.
"FNPF is good vehicle for a payment system for workers but how do we reach those that are unemployed or in informal employment?"
Dr Sharma added that the introduction of lifesaving surgery by the end of the year was made possible through private sector partnerships, something that government was keen to further explore in all facets of the health sector.
"We simply cannot do everything for everybody and we must accept that the private sector is much more efficient in administering and managing these types of services.
"By the end of this year, through joint venture partnership with an overseas group of hospitals, we will offer surgery that was previously only available to those who could afford to go overseas while the less fortunate had to wait for visiting overseas health teams, where only a limited number of patients could be treated."