3 May 2004

Solomon Islands in desperate need of doctors

6:59 am on 3 May 2004

Medical authorities in Solomon Islands say hospitals are struggling to retain and recruit doctors.

Staff are leaving to work overseas where pay and working conditions are better.

There are three doctors on Malaita and the Western Province, and one doctor each for Makira-Ulawa, Temotu, Guadalcanal and Choiseul provinces.

Central Province has no doctor.

The supervisor for the Ministry's Health and Medical services, Dr Judson Leafasia says while they have good facilities, they can't keep staff:

"We've had serious problems with recruiting not just doctors but people into the public service, but that has been lifted by the prime minister now, by the public service so we can recruit. Our problem has been attracting doctors to come into the country."

Dr Leafasia says new service and work conditions would attract doctors, but he says the country's economy means the health service is underfunded and understaffed.