Usa­mate lead­ing the charge in im­prov­ing health ser­vice in a big way

Fiji Sun - - Comment - JY­OTI PRAT­I­BHA Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Health Min­is­ter Jone Usa­mate has proved that one does not need to be a doc­tor to suc­cess­fully run the health min­istry. What is needed are man­age­ment and lead­er­ship skills and de­ter­mi­na­tion to make things bet­ter. Un­der Mr Usa­mate’s lead­er­ship and the vi­sion of the Fi­jiFirst Govern­ment, se­ri­ous steps have been taken to im­prove the coun­try’s health ser­vices. While there is still a long way to go, we have seen progress right across the board.

We are not only talk­ing about up­grad­ing our fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices we are ac­tu­ally do­ing it. For a long time, doc­tors have worked long hours, with­out fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion. Many have left our shores for greener pas­tures where their skills, ded­i­ca­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence are recog­nised and com­pen­sated with at­trac­tive fi­nan­cial pack­ages. Now, the Govern­ment has come up with in­cen­tives for them to stay here. Doc­tors have been given pay rises in recog­ni­tion of the work they do. When ex­pe­ri­enced med­i­cal ex­perts leave for over­seas work, they cre­ate a vac­uum here that takes time to fill. We can ex­pect this bold move by the Govern­ment to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the morale and stan­dard of ser­vice de­liv­ery in our health and med­i­cal sec­tor. The upgrade of ru­ral health cen­tres and the build­ing of new re­gional fa­cil­i­ties like the Ba Hospital will boost ser­vices.

An­other sig­nif­i­cantly wor­thy ini­tia­tive which will no doubt as­sist those who have com­plaints is the med­i­cal helpline that has been bud­geted for.

It’s a life­line for many of our peo­ple in the ru­ral and mar­itime ar­eas who now have the op­por­tu­nity not only to voice their griev­ances, but to get on the spot ad­vice and con­sul­ta­tion for med­i­cal emer­gen­cies. The helpline pro­vides a valu­able ac­cess that was not there. It demon­strates Mr Usa­mate’s and the Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment in en­sur­ing that all peo­ple can ac­cess ser­vices. In the face of our chal­lenges, we must put things in per­spec­tive. We can­not be com­pared with neigh­bours Aus­tralia and New Zealand. They are much big­ger than us with more re­sources. Even New Zealand has had to go through bud­get cuts in health spend­ing in the dis­trict health boards. So ev­ery­thing is rel­a­tive. But if we com­pare our health ser­vice to the rest of the re­gion, we are miles ahead of them. Mr Usa­mate is ably as­sisted by as­sis­tant Min­is­ter Veena Bhatnagar. To­gether, they have lifted the ser­vice and have made a dif­fer­ence. It does not mean most of our prob­lems are gone. We are still hav­ing to deal with com­plaints of med­i­cal neg­li­gence or mis­ad­ven­ture. Mr Usa­mate has not shied away from them and is com­mit­ted to con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions to find out what hap­pened and take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion. Those who take to so­cial me­dia to com­plain about how bad some of our hospi­tals are now, have con­ve­niently for­got­ten that these prob­lems did not come up overnight. Nurses are be­ing trained and most im­por­tantly, Govern­ment is se­ri­ous about keep­ing our pro­fes­sion­als here in Fiji. Re­forms in the mid­wifery train­ing will im­prove ser­vices in our ma­ter­nity units in the long term. Mr Usa­mate has led the charge. At the rate he is mov­ing, he is set to com­plete an im­pres­sive record by the time the next gen­eral election hap­pens.

Min­is­ter for Health Jone Usa­mate.

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