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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Vanuatu Hospital Administration ‘Politicizing’ Operations
Political figures allegedly making decisions at Vila Central

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 22, 2012) – The Vila Central Hospital has been labeled as a ‘politicized hospital’ by insiders because of current changes at the management level.

The Medical Services Manager Dr. Willie Tukon received an early retirement by the Public Service Commission and his post is still vacant. A hospital insider confirmed hunt is still on for his replacement.

Asked why he was retired when it was not easy to find another qualified doctor of his caliber, the insider replied that current decisions come from political level and everyone at the management just simply salute the politicians who go down to the Vila Central Hospital and give political directions.

The Manager General Services Leipakoa Matariki has also received marching orders by politicians and is being replaced by Mr. Theophile Massing.

The hospital insider told Daily Post that a politician met with the hospital management yesterday morning and introduced Mr. Massing to them and was quoted to say "this is your new boss" who is replacing a long time most experienced VCH General Services Manager, Matariki.

Daily Post was also reliably informed that the Kitchen Manager was also replaced sometime yesterday by a new comer whose name was not revealed to Daily Post. Asked what happened to the former Kitchen Manager, the answer was that the former Kitchen Manager is now serving under the new manager.

"All decisions are currently dictated from the political bureau and all we do is take the orders as they come," the hospital insider told Daily Post yesterday.

It transpired the management posts are being politically filled without being advertised in accordance with the Public Service Commission requirements. New managers are being hired politically and appointed to the managerial positions at the Vila Central hospital outside the required criteria, according to the hospital insider.

The question to be answered is do these new hired managers possess required medical qualifications to fill such important managerial positions at the Vanuatu’s top hospital? The answer came from the hospital insider that no proper procedures were followed because the posts were never advertised. These pose serious questions when dealing with the life of the people of Vanuatu in health and medical profession.

The changes at the Vila Central Hospital Management level are all made by the Public Service Commission. But the insider at the VCH said it appears the decisions are politically motivated because the former managers were just given letters or told that their contracts are terminated, and they are being replaced by someone else without proper Public Service procedures and without consideration to their qualifications, in particular, in [the] health and medical profession.

Local nurses have also voiced their concern some months ago over the wage and conditions offered to the Solomon Island nurses which they claim is much more attractive than that offered to the ni-Vanuatu Nurses. The local nurses say this is unfair since many of them have sacrificed their time for many years to serve thousands of patients at the Vila Central Hospital but received far less than that offered to the Solomon Islands nurses.

"The overall conditions at the Vila Central Hospital, including morale and everything else, is at its lowest point, including shortage of staff, shortage of medical equipment and facilities, and the budget itself just doesn’t meet the overall needs of our largest hospital in Vanuatu."

It was also confirmed to Daily Post that over 1,500 babies are born at the Vila Central hospital each year but the maternity ward doesn’t have enough beds and facilities and young mothers can’t remain for more treatment after giving birth. This particular need has always been overlooked by government since 1980 – 32 years on now and the need is still not being addressed.

The VCH insider also revealed to Daily Post that doctors and nurses serving at the outpatients over stretched themselves because hundreds of outpatients visit seek medical treatment each day from Monday through to Saturday and Sunday and even in the evening and late at night and the early hours of each morning.

The anti-natal clinic receives hundreds of young pregnant mothers every Tuesday and on weekly basis as well as patients visiting dental clinics and ENT clinic.

"Each person has only one life and has the right to have the best medical treatment at the Vila Central hospital. It is therefore the duty of the Vanuatu Government through the Ministry of Health to provide the budget required to meet the cost of running the VCH at the best and professional level expected by the people of Vanuatu," the hospital insider commented to Daily Post.

"And finally we want the politics not to interfere with the daily management and the running of the Vila Central Hospital," said the hospital insider.

Questions have also been raised as to why a Health Planner has been replaced at the Ministry of Health Level and what procedures were used by the Public Service Commission to hire a new health planner and on what merit.

Daily Post understands the new Minister of Health has vowed to review all these decisions and to deal with any injustices head on and return the trust and confidence to the management and all staff of the Vila Central Hospital once he gets settled down.

Vanuatu Daily Post:
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