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