21 May 2003

French Polynesian Government to look overseas for more doctors as dispute deepens

6:13 am on 21 May 2003

The French Polynesia Government is developing criteria with the aim of attracting foreign doctors into the territory.

This comes amid a deepening dispute between doctors and the state health insurance scheme, CPS.

Last month, doctors launched an indefinite strike against plans by CPS to impose a ceiling on the yearly level of reimbursed care.

Over the weekend, around three thousand people marched against the CPS changes and French doctors in the territory threatened to return to France if the dispute is not resolved.

Tepuanui Snow from President Flosse's Media Unit says preparations must be made for a possible shortage of doctors in French Polynesia.

"If the doctors were to go back to France we would have to actually deal to the situation in order to respond to the needs and have the good health of the Polynesian, and the government decided to say foreign doctors could actually come and work here in Tahiti, would probably still have to pass an examination to see the equivalence to their certificate and the type of certificate we have here, with the French system"

Mr Snow says fresh talks are underway between CPS and private doctors after they suspended their strike for five days.

Meanwhile doctors in public health are still on strike because of a developing dispute with the Minister of Health.