11 Nov 2004

Concerns at the brain drain in Vanuatu as more nurses leave for better paid work overseas

4:39 pm on 11 November 2004

Around ten percent of nurses from Vanuatu's main hospital, Port Vila, are leaving to work abroad, according to the National Union of Workers.

The Cook Islands have just recruited three nurses from Port Vila Hospital whilst Union spokesman, Cecil Ala, says six more are due to leave soon.

Mr Ala says two of the three worked in intensive care are they are all being replaced by nurses who have not practised for several years.

He says pay and conditions are so poor in Vanuatu that the brain drain of workers to other countries including the Cook Islands, Micronesia and Palau, looks likely to continue.

"Salaries are very poor, there's no allowances for working overtime, no sick allowances, no such things and it's not good for them."

National Union of Workers spokesperson, Cecil Ala.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Southern Healthcare Group, Thomas Isom says it's hard to retain staff because their budget is so tight.

Mr Isom says last year they were forced to cut 96 staff from within the Ministry of Health and they don't have the money to offer any inducements to encourage nurses to stay in Vanuatu.

We already have difficulties in running. We are working within a tight workforce just because the need is rising and the budget continues to go down because of the economy of the country's situation.

The Director of the Southern Healthcare Group, Thomas Isom.