Health ministry refutes media rumours and assures nurses will return when contracts expire
By Gary Hatigeva
THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has played down rumours about local nurses signing up to migrate abroad under what is thought to be an independent nursing recruitment scheme.
Earlier media reports had suggested that a mass number of registered nurses within Solomon Islands system have signed up to leave Solomon Islands and serve abroad.
The Ministry further confirmed there are nurses confirmed to leave the country to serve in Vanuatu but clarified that there is no ‘exodus’ and that their going comes as part of an established arrangement between the governments of Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
They said someone from the Vanuatu ministry of health is currently in Honiara under the arrangement, to interview nurses who are interested to try out this working exchange programme but denied working with any independent recruiter.
Vanuatu is currently experiencing nurse shortage therefore looks to Solomon Islands for short term assistance to fill the gap.
The Ministry further added that those accepted to work in Vanuatu will go to replace nurses who were placed under early retirement by their Public Service commission.
Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands Nursing Association (SINA) General Secretary, Mr Steven Maitani also confirmed that a total of 100 nurses who are former hospital ward managers, clinic heads or supervisors have been selected to try out the opportunity
When contacted, Maitani also clarified that these nurses are going under contracts, meaning they are out there for work and are expected to return to the country once their contracts expire.
He said based on their backgrounds, all stakeholders involved in this work opportunity programme are convinced they (nurses) will perform extremely well when serving the government especially the people of Vanuatu.
However, concerns were raised on the status of impact these departing number will create, which they think threatens to produce a gap in the country’s health services.
But when responding to these concerns, Maitani explained that the departure of these nurses should not affect our health services in the country because a lot of nurse probationers are still waiting to come into the field.
He said the departure of these senior nurses is welcomed as it will also give an opportunity for the young ones to take over and experience the challenges.
According to data, Solomon Islands produce more nurses than the system can accommodate and around 20 on averages retire annually, while more nurses graduate from SINU and Atoifi almost every year.
“As far remittance is concerned, this is foreign income opportunity for the country,” Maitani stressed.
He added that the general public should appreciate this program and see it from an economic and development perspective.
Meanwhile, insiders revealed that over the past 3 years there have been around 230 nurses who graduated from the Solomon Islands National University’s School of Nursing but are still without jobs and that should indicated that the country will not experience shortage as feared.