8 Sep 2005

Samoa doctor says poor pay adds to brain drain

1:32 pm on 8 September 2005

The secretary of Samoa's General Practitioners, Dr John Atherton, says the government's inability to listen to doctors' requests for more pay has resulted in a brain drain over the past 20 years.

Yesterday, Samoa's Medical Association said strike action was inevitable because the government won't move to meet its pay demands.

The association wants new doctors entering the service to have a starting salary of at least 11,000 US dollars.

Dr Atherton says if the government offered better pay and working conditions, public health services would improve overnight.

He says many doctors and specialists have gone into private practise or moved overseas.

"I'm afraid it is very attractive for anyone who is able to get away, and often they stay away. They say look, why do we want to go back and put up with very difficult conditions, as consequently things don't improve. It is a very vicious circle."

Dr John Atherton