UFDF PRESS RELEASE – The Truth about the state of Fiji’s Health Services

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STATEMENT FROM

THE UFDF

[No 33 /2013]

[Nov 20, 2013]

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF said in his 2014 Election focused Budget provisions; the PM said very little about the state of the nation’s Health except for an admission that quote ‘it is not as good as it should be, given years of neglect ‘unquote.

The UFDF says the regime always speaks of ‘past years neglect’ in general terms so as to infer the democratic government they overthrew in 2006 is the cause of the neglect. But the Regime have been in control for the past 7 years, this is 2 years longer than the previous elected government and still the state of our Health Services is a disgrace.

When the next democratically elected government is in place at the end of 2014, the regime would have had 3 years longer than the previous legal governments to fix things and based on their current performance there is nothing that indicates that they have the ability to fix anything.

The UFDF says there are many hidden flaws and losses that run into the tens of millions of dollars mainly through incompetence, corruption and mismanagement that remain unknown because of the lack of accountability and transparency practiced by the regime and this information needs to be exposed so that people can see what is really going on.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

An official of the UFDF recently visited the Lautoka & CWM Hospital, spoke to staff, nurses, Doctors and other medical personal and the following is a brief summary of what emerged from discussions with hospital personnel.

  • LAUTOKA HOSPITAL [Visit – Sep 2013]
  1. Dr Neil Sharma announced an $8 million upgrade of the Lautoka Hospital & CWM hospitals on April 7th 2010, yet today both hospitals look a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair? So what was it spent on?
  2. In the Lautoka Hospital as late as September only 1 of the 3 lifts it has was operating and according to staff, the others have been out of service for almost a year?
  3. Should the 3rd lift breakdown, patients will need to be carried up the stairs from the Emergency Department to the ICU and CCU and Major Operating theatre?
  4. Patients are still being asked to buy their own drugs and medication because the hospital has none, yet in 2012 $10 million in medication purchased by government sat in stock, then expired and went to waste? [FT Nov 27 2012 Report]
  • CWM HOSPITAL [Visit –Nov 2013 ]

Like Lautoka, despite the supposed multimillion dollar upgrade, the CWM looks a sorry sight and in desperate need of repair.

  1. In addition the ongoing shortages of drugs and supplies continues, but with the added burden of cheap and inferior medical supplies from China and as well as India. . An example of this is the cheaper intravenous cannulas being purchased from China which are apparently of such poor quality and have flaws that expose the medical personnel to blood when injecting the patient. Previous purchases of these were a better quality without flaws.
  2. Doctors and Nurses alike ‘buy their own’ plaster for use on patients because the officially supplied plaster – referred to by all in CWM as the cello tape’  falls off within minutes of being applied to a wound.
  3. The number of the ultrasound scan machines purchased by the government at a cost of $27,000 each and distributed to other sub divisional health facilities have been returned to the CWM because no one can operate them and when repairs are required the technicians in Fiji can’t repair them, there is also a  new lot of hematological  and biomedical equipment  and like the ultrasound equipment the local technicians cannot fix them so the supplier [alleged to be a relative or friend of the Minister] has to be flown up from New Zealand to carry out the repairs.In his 2014 Budget address the PM said quote

Our biomedical equipment will now be serviced by professionals, and $900,000 has been allocated for this purpose’

  • The approximate $243,000 cost for the equipment has already been paid, so add to this the $900,000 put aside for servicing and repairs by professionals? Then someone is making a cool $1.1 million for equipment that can’t be operated or serviced locally? WHY?
  • The regime recently announced a multimillion plan to build 6 new operating theatres in the CWM, however there is a well known shortage of qualified anesthetist and surgical nursing staff to man the 4 theatres already renovated and in place.  Different surgical specialists are already facing difficulties due to the current shortage of trained medical staff and equipment; another 6 new operating theatres will simply compound the situation.
  • There are specialist shortages which are rife in the Ministry and a specific example of this is in the anesthesia department where anesthetist are working 24 hour shifts looking after the country’s most critically ill and surgical patients.  The situation was further worsened when senior staffs were sent to Sudan and only a handful remained to maintain services. The majority of the anesthetists are made up of junior staffs that have recently joined the department, a factor that led to the recent death of a female patient in Lautoka and the suspension of the Anesthetist.The UFDF says all of the examples of neglect and gross mismanagement referred in this statement occurred in the past 12 to 24 months under Bainimarama’s ‘illegal’ regime and are the result of the prior ‘5 years of neglect’ he referred to in his 2014 budget address and have absolutely nothing to do with any previous elected and ‘legal’ government that he tries to deflect blame to.

Dr Neil Sharma has been the Minister responsible since January 2009 and therefore the person directing the regimes failed policies over the past 5 years that have led to the gross mismanagement and neglect which occurred over the past 24 months as highlighted in this statement.

The UFDF says any person of moral and principled standing would accept responsibility for the failures of their policies in the same way they accept the praise and accolades when things get done right, rare though that may be.

The UFDF calls on Dr Sharma to do the right thing and take responsibility for the decisions and policies he has imposed on the Ministry of Health on behalf of the regime and for once account to the people for this terrible mess and man up and resign.

The UFDF says the ongoing daily struggles of our Doctors and nursing staff in our hospitals and the difficulty they face with medical supply shortages, inferior products, lack of trained specialists and the below average remuneration for their profession is a matter that should concern all citizens as the state of our Health Services is something we will all face a need for at sometime in our lives.

More statements highlighting other areas of gross neglect and mismanagement will be highlighted in the coming weeks.

Authorized By                       UFDF

For further elaboration or interviews on our statements please contact anyone of the following:

Mick Beddoes – 830524;  Laisania Qarase – 9993113;  Mahendra Chaudhry – 9921865

 Attar Singh – 9921184;  Tupeni Baba – 9373364

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