Drug shortage claim – Dr McCaig: Silence from Government deafening

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Dr Eddie McCaig during the NGO Coalition on Human Rights panel discussion at Tanoa Plaza Hotel yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

The silence from the Government amid the absence of essential medicines in health centres and hospitals around Fiji is deafening, says retired and long-serving specialist surgeon Dr Eddie McCaig.

He made the comment while speaking at the NGO Coalition on Human Rights “State of Human Rights” panel discussion at Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva yesterday.

Dr McCaig claimed that about 60 per cent of what was on the essential drug list in Fiji was not available right now.

“In today’s (yesterday’s) paper, they talked about the essential drug list,” he said.

“What strikes me is the silence which is deafening; an example is, recently people of Korovou have asked for a private pharmacy to be built in Korovou. No one realises that they asked for a pharmacy because there are no drugs in the hospitals now. “It is sad and it’s been so quiet, there has been no comment from the Government.”

He said the issue on the absence of drugs for HIV patients was highlighted recently by the media.

Dr McCaig said the country was aware that about 15 per cent of our population was diabetic while 60 per cent of Fiji’s population was admitted into hospitals because of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“If we look at our deaths, we know for sure that 80 per cent of our population dies from NCDs.

“We once looked at our diabetics and complications, we found that 80 per cent of our diabetics are poorly controlled because they have no drugs, they have no labs, laboratory testing and the list goes on and on.

“So what is the state of our nation, it is in dire straits.”

When asked for a response to Dr McCaig’s comment, Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said in essence, Dr McCaig had retired from Fiji National University where he was employed.

“He has never worked at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services as a civil servant for the last 20 years,” he said.

“He had retired. He has also never applied formally to work in any capacity even as a locum.

“And since we were in the throes of COVID-19, all the staff over 50 were kept away from the frontline.

“So even if he had asked to come in formally, we would not possibly have done so.”

Dr Waqainabete said more than 60 staff members at FNU had also retired this year.

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