The Ministry of Health has raised growing concerns for the well-being of its staff during the course of the pandemic.
With the pandemic into its third year, the Ministry of Health has had to maintain emergency mode operations for much of this time.
Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong says at the present time, their staff are attending to COVID-19 response operations, facilitating the health response to the current adverse weather conditions, helping with the NDMO response that will also deploy to the volcano eruption affected islands in the Lau group, and at the same time maintain as far as possible their normal non-COVID functions.
Dr. Fong says according to the World Health Organization, there is data to show that more than 1 in 4 health workers globally have experienced mental health issues during the pandemic and several countries have reported health workers considering leaving or have left their jobs because of difficult working conditions, staffing constraints, and the distress of making life and death decisions every day under intense pressure.
For this reason, the PS for Health says there is an urgent need to safeguard the welfare of their medical staff by ensuring that they get some rest and attend to their families.
Dr. Fong says they are working on initiatives to ensure that their staff move back to running normal working hours and take official leave entitlements accrued over the past year.
Dr. Fong stresses that health workers and frontliners have done their best for two years to protect as many people as possible; Fijians must now do their part to protect them, by getting vaccinated, and taking precautions to prevent becoming infected, or infecting someone else.