‘Reform of health sector vital’ – Deputy PM

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Prof. Biman Prasad during break between sessions at the Parliament complex in Suva on Monday, Sep 11, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The agenda of the Coalition Government for the next four years is to transform the health sector, starting from primary to tertiary healthcare.

This was highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad during the opening of the Transforming Primary Health Care (PHC) in Fiji workshop in Lami yesterday.

Attended by medical professionals nationwide, the three-day workshop is part of efforts to review PHC in Fiji and reform based on new opportunities, needs and priorities.

Prof Prasad said that in the 2023-2024 National Budget, the Government would be able to address, if not all, a large majority of the maintenance required in hospitals and health centres across the country.

“The transformation of the health sector is very important and as a government, we believe in consultation and dialogue,” Prof Biman said.

“Any country, any finance minister, any economist, looking at how to grow the economy, will look at the state of health services.

“When I was in opposition for eight years, Dr James Fong knows this, you may not have been very happy with what I had to say. But surely we had one of the worst services ever in the history of this country.

“Health care from an economist’s point of view is absolutely important as a much more integrated, efficient, effective PHC is going to generally reduce health costs.

“When you reduce the health costs, when you pay attention to primary health care, you also increase productivity.”

Prof Prasad said the Government recognised the challenges currently facing the Health Ministry in major areas.

He said this could be seen through the additional funding for the recruitment of new and additional nursing aides, nursing assistants and improving the overall working conditions of Fiji’s medical officers.

“As civil servants, as stakeholders, you have a much bigger responsibility to lay the foundation for the long-term health of our nation.

“I see your objectives and the outcomes that you hope to achieve will focus on budget, on finances and how the whole primary health care program can be put into a whole of government, whole of ministry context and taken forward.”

The workshop ends tomorrow.

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