Fiji cannot afford to ignore or undervalue and underfund the nursing profession, not only for the health and welfare of nurses, but also for the protection and sustainability of the health of our population.
The President of the Fiji Nursing Association, Dr Alisi Vudiniabola, said this emphasizing that nurses deserve to be recognized and compensated for the tremendous work they do in every epidemic, pandemic and other events. “Without their contribution, our health services will collapse,” she said.
Dr Vudiniabola said Fiji needs to be aware of global trends in nursing workforce issues because they ultimately affect us.
“When we produce highly marketable, work-ready graduates who can work in any setting anywhere in the world, the government must also ensure that these graduates stay in Fiji after spending so much on their educational preparation.”
Dr Vudiniabola said the Ministry of Health and Medical Services had no idea how to support these nurses and retain them in Fiji.
“The unequal distribution of nurses around the world will be exacerbated by large-scale international recruitment from high-income first-world countries that are able to recruit and retain nurses to address their nursing shortages, leaving smaller countries like ours resorting to either an inexperienced and unskilled workforce or reemployed older nurses upon retirement.
She said Fiji would continue to lose its highly qualified and best qualified nurses to bigger countries, leaving these new graduates without qualified mentors, teachers and leaders.
Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said there were 300 nursing vacancies.
He could not provide a figure on the number of quits over the past year. Dr Waqainabete said that according to a brief he received six weeks ago, 25 nurses had quit.
“Since until now, I don’t know what the numbers are,” he told a news conference when asked about the nursing situation.