22 Oct 2009

CNMI under state of health emergency

4:31 pm on 22 October 2009

The Governor of the Northern Marianas has taken control of the Department of Public Health by declaring a state of health emergency for the Commonwealth so more doctors can be recruited.

The 30-day emergency measure paves the way for the hiring of physicians from the Philippines and other countries outside the U.S. and Canada to help address the shortage of specialists on the islands.

The governor said the CNMI was experiencing a higher death rate that can be attributed to a lack of health care.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says the declaration, signed into effect on October the 20th, was deemed necessary to improve public health.

"The Governor had no choice but to declare this emergency so he could make steps to amend or fix this problem at CHC (the hospital). We have been plagued by a lack of doctors and a lack of specialists which has caused a breakdown in service of our only public hospital and with this in place, the emergency declaration, Governor Fitial can now make moves to hire more doctors, more specialists."

Mark Rabago says recruiting more doctors will also help to cut the number of medical patients being referred for treatment off island.