Acknowledge the letters we’re writing – Riddell

Pacific Island Pacemaker Services chairperson Dr Fiona Riddell. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

The Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital is “run down” which shows there is no money to spend on improving infrastructure, says Pacific Island Pacemaker Services chairwoman Dr Fiona Riddell.

In an interview with The Fiji Times, she said she has been visiting the country since 2001 and has not seen any improvement to infrastructure in the past two decades despite writing to authorities about her concerns.

“The hospital is very rundown, as in Lautoka. I’ve not seen any improvements in the hospital since I’ve been coming,” she said.

“So there’s obviously no money to spend on improving the infrastructure.”

She said one thing that had changed was having access to a catheterisation laboratory (cath lab) at the CWM Hospital.

“But nothing’s improved regarding funding or the state of the hospitals or the access to the patients.

“Nothing has changed.” With the country approaching general elections, she called on Government to listen to the experts.

“I call on the government to listen to the experts like ourselves who have been visiting for a long time and are passionate about health care.

“Listen to and take notice of the letters we’re writing.

“Acknowledge the letters we’re writing. “We’ve had no acknowledgement and Dr Vijay Kapadia (cardiologist) has had no acknowledgement and the health care that can be provided is very cost-effective and can be provided within Fiji. “This hospital should be the centre of excellence for the Pacific for this type of work.”

Pacific Island Pacemaker Services is an organisation based in New Zealand, which has volunteers delivering life-saving pacemaker services who come to Fiji twice every year.

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong said he had spoken to the team and had a plan to deal with their concerns.

“We are also focused on carrying out infrastructure improvements more efficiently for all health facilities, and our strategy includes the setting up of divisional mobile units to supplement facility-based general servicing and maintenance capability and also work with private providers through a process for pre-qualifying contractors and suppliers for each subdivision,” he said.

“Furthermore, we continue to support the government’s initiatives on greater engagement between the public health sector and the private health sector.

“The engagement of general practitioners, private dental practitioners, private medical laboratories, and private ambulance providers to support our services in a public-private partnership arrangement will greatly assist our ongoing recovery efforts, and further strengthen health care services in Fiji.

“This is in line with the principle of private health sector engagement to complement and enhance public health sector service.” With regards to acknowledging the team’s correspondence, Dr Fong said “that is something I have been doing”.

• Questions sent to Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete on Friday and yesterday on concerns raised by Dr Fiona Riddell remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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