Get serious about doctor shortage: Council tells MOH

03/11/2008 15:32

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to get serious about addressing the age-old issue of doctor shortage in public hospitals. Why is MOH running around in circles with the existing knowledge on brain drain in the medical field and overseas recruitment drives that offer lucrative opportunities to our medical professionals? Has not the Health Ministry exhausted its breath in highlighting the same problems with our public hospitals year in and year out? Consumers have become tired of being dished out with these problems without any practical solutions by the Ministry to have them addressed for good.

The doctor shortage has been explained by MOH because of trainee doctors attending to their medical examinations. It leaves one to wonder whether the MOH has been relying on these doctors all this while to attend to patients in the capacity of fully trained doctors. If this is the case, then it means that patients resorting to public hospitals for medical attention have been used as guinea pigs because fully trained doctors were not attending to them.

Consumers have more than often voiced their concerns, complaints and frustrations pertaining to the poor quality services found at the public health hospitals and health centres around the country. They complain of long queues, long waiting hours, nurses negative attitude, inadequate facilities, unhygienic hospital environment, delayed doctor arrivals, doctor negligence, incompetent doctors, shortage of doctors and nurses and shortage of drugs. Obviously, as taxpayers, consumers desire to receive quality and standardardised services from the public health sector.

To address these seemingly unsurmountable problems rigging the public health sector the MOH needs only to source out the provision of its services to the private practitioners. The private health sector is large and growing which the MOH can tap into and work with them to construct schemes that would ensure the sharing of the country’s health burden. There are classic examples of medical operations in the names of Bayly Clinic and Nasese Medical Centre, which provide medical services at affordable costs to consumers. More of these types of schemes need to be constructed around the country so that consumers get the best of medical care that is to be provided in the country.

Moreover, the Council is of the perception that MOH has largely neglected the private health sector and the opportunities as well as the problems that it entails. By working closely with them MOH would be able to do two things at one time – ie take advantage of the opportunities and address the prevailing problems that have been ignored and left unaddressed by MOH. If time is of the essence, then the MOH should ACT NOW and work with the private sector instead of ignoring them.