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“Consumer Council, Ministry of Health and Prime Minister’s Office” Letter to Editor, 27 May 2014


Letter to Editor (The Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Island Business, Republika) (27 May 2014)

Consumer Council, Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Health

Dear Sir,

The CEO of Consumer Council (Mrs Premila Kumar) very responsibly informed  the public (Fiji TV, 26 May 2014) that consumers keep making serious complaints about the Ministry of Health due to:

* bad and insensitive attitudes of the staff,

* inefficiencies

* gross negligence

* with some patients even dying

* and with the Dental and Medical Councils not responding to consumer complaints, even when the complaints came via the Prime Minister’s Office.

Although Mrs Premila Kumar quite understandably praised Bainimarama for raising this health issue (just four months before the elections), sensible tax payers must be mulling over many questions:

(a)        Why would Mrs Premila Kumar tell the country that she was working very closely with the Prime Minister’s Office on this health issue?

(b) if most problems in the country are being solved by the Prime Minister’s Office (as it seems from the media) does this indicate that all other Ministries are not doing their respective jobs, and should everybody (following Mrs Premila Kumar) make a beeline for the Prime Minister’s Office?

(c) if the Minister or Permanent Secretary of Health have not responded to Mrs Premila’s complaints after eight years, should they both do the honourable thing, and resign?

(d) why have the Dental and Medical Councils not addressed the complaints and should they all resign?

(e) given the numerous media statements by the impassive and impressive Permanent Secretary of  Public Service (Mr. Parmesh Chand) about their many initiatives towards improving the efficiency of civil servants (such as retiring civil servants at age 55 and sending everyone for training to China), have all these efforts been a failure as far as the Ministry of Health is concerned, and should Mr Chand resign?

(f) given the seriousness of complaints from the CEO of Consumer Council, should Rear Admiral (retired) Bainimarama himself resign, given that his government has been in charge for eight years now (the lifetime of two normal governments), given that he has determined his own salary, and given that the buck should stop with him in more ways than one?

(g) or is the real fundamental problem that the Ministry of Health budget has been severely constrained for the last eight years, the salaries of doctors and nurses have been totally inadequate, they have been over-worked, and the funds for medicines and equipment have been grossly inadequate, because of the Bainimarama Government’s other spending “priorities”?

(h) for instance, would the $230,000 of public funds, unnecessarily paid to Fiji Sun to print the 40,000 signatures for the registration application of Fiji First Party (when only 5,000 was required), have been better spent on medicines for the Ministry of Health?

(i) Or why was not a mere $10 million reallocated to Health in the last budget, out of the massive allocation of $1 billion (i.e. $1,000 millions) to FRA over the last two years?

Professor Wadan Narsey


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