Poor state of health

Nurses attend to patients at the Makoi Health Centre. The National Federation Party says if elected, it will Implement a national health insurance. Picture: FT FILE

Nurses in the north will soon be the focus of MenC training to be conducted by the Family Health Unit. Picture: FT FILE

THE pathetic state of our public health and medical services is best illustrated by a statement by the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy in Parliament on March 9, 2018, when he said the shortage of towels, bedsheets and cutlery in our public hospitals was because of theft by medical personnel and patients respectively.

The A-G made the statement while rejecting a National Federation Party motion moved by me seeking parliamentary approval for the formation of a “bipartisan committee to conduct an inquiry into the public health and medical system and for the report of such an inquiry to be tabled, debated and adopted by Parliament and to form the basis of formulation of policies and strategies by Government to improve the delivery of health care and medical services”.

Playing the blame game has been the hallmark of Cabinet ministers of this Government and I believe the Attorney-General is no exception.

Blaming past governments, blaming past politicians, blaming unionists, blaming the weather and climate change, blaming the teachers, blaming sections of the media, and now blaming health personnel and even patients for shortage of linen and cutlery.

All the blame game is doing is leading to further deterioration of most services and our public health and medical service has taken a battering under both the military regime and FijiFirst Government, which have been in total control of Fiji since December 5, 2006.

The problems

Problems in the public health care and medical services are well documented. Lack of doctors and nurses, lack of basic amenities, shortage of beds forcing patients to lie in corridors, overworked doctors and nurses and other health personnel, shortage of basic medicine, expired medicine, a shambolic so-called free medicine scheme, long waiting time for patients to see a doctor, lack of diagnostic equipment, are some of the serious ills plaguing our hospitals and health centres.

Health not this Government’s priority

Despite major reforms, health care has not improved. This is the painful reality.

The kidney dialysis services are a no-show despite all the pomp in the last budget. Very much like the shambolic free medicine scheme or the supposedly free electricity policy which has driven away consumers who had initially signed for it in droves.

The Opposition’s motions during the past two national budgets calling for a significant increase to the paltry sum of $300,000 for dialysis was defeated.

Yet Government sees it fit to allocate annually $9 million for golf, $18 million as Singapore route marketing grant to Fiji Airways and $11.3 million to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

One may well ask — are these more precious than the lives of those ordinary citizens in desperate need of dialysis?

This Government paid little attention to our major hospitals and medical facilities. It did not lack resources but did not make improving medical and health care a priority.

What will we do

We will: –

1. Establish the national hospital service that will be in charge of every aspect of the public health and medical care, including recruitment of health personnel, procurement of medicine and vital equipment. This will be free of political bureaucracy and red tape.

2. Implement a national health insurance scheme for all our people.

3. Review the free medicine scheme to give true meaning to “free” where those under the scheme are able to purchase any prescribed medication and not from a restrictive list as is currently the case.

4. Allocate $5m per annum for kidney dialysis and move towards renal transplant capabilities.

5. Build a hospice to ensure the best of care and comfort for our cancer patients. Currently our cancer patients, even in the last days of their lives are left to die in hospitals or family members are being forced to take them home and provide care at their own expense. This is unacceptable and inhumane. A well-resourced and fully equipped hospice with nurses trained in the care of patients suffering from terminal diseases is a must.

Details of all our solutions for a much better health and medical care will be available in NFP’s manifesto.

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