22 Sep 2009

Fiji midwife says early retirement age has impacted maternal health

7:45 am on 22 September 2009

A Fiji midwife says her country's early retirement age is having an impact on maternal health.

The interim government in Fiji lowered the retirement age for civil servants to 55 in April.

Midwife Sulueti Duvaga, who is also the Vice President of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health, spoke about the situation in Fiji at a parliamentary hearing on Pacific maternal health in Wellington yesterday.

She says more than 100 nurses were lost to the profession by the move, exposing new nurses and doctors.

"There was a crucial layoff of staff, because you find the older we grow the more experienced we are. This were the experienced nurses and you see at the age of 55, 56, they are still in the middle of their expertise, and they have to leave."

Sulueti Duvaga says the government has since called back some experienced nurses on contract until December.

She says an increase in maternal deaths in Fiji last year was due to a lack of trained staff to assist women in provincial areas.