Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has called for a drawn out merger of the National Health Services and the Ministry of Health to be implemented urgently.
Tuilaepa has told Samoa FM radio his Cabinet has decided to go with recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry set up to look into the merger.
He said the Nurses Association’s insistence to revisit and review the proposed structure of a major body had been a major sticking point.
He said the Cabinet had accepted a Commission recommendation that it would be easier and cheaper to run.
“But the most important part is for the doctors and nurses to work together and put aside their differences and do what they went into the service for,” Tuilaepa said.
In August this year, the Commission of Inquiry appointed by Cabinet to review the proposed merger said the leaders of the health sector in Samoa exist in a “state of warfare.”
And unless “reconciliation” takes place immediately between leaders of the “warring occupational groups”, especially doctors and nurses, members of the public whose lives depend on the sector, will continue to be victims.
But it’s not just that. Health workers who are merely trying to perform their duties will continue to be trapped in this vicious cycle while “the war” rages above them.
This was the gist of a report titled “A Pressing need for Grace”, which casts doubt on whether the merge can proceed under current circumstances, has been submitted to Cabinet for their deliberation.
“A fundamental change in attitude of all Health sector workers is the Commission’s own prescription for the terminal condition which the sector is currently manifesting, an attitude of selfishness and mala fides (bad faith) which lies at the heart of the conflicts and disagreements which has paralyzed the service for many years,” the report reads.
“The Commission strongly recommends the conduct of a formal process of reconciliation between the leaders of the warring occupational groups.
“(There is also) a need for a nationwide resetting of health sector goals where the best interests of patients and the needs of the public, dictate the form of health administration we have, (and not groups of privileged self- centered office bound jet setting combatants), whilst the vast majority of ill- treated underpaid staff continue to work hard and do the best with what they have, whilst ‘the war’ rages above and around them.”
Chaired by former Attorney General, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, the Commission members included the Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, Fui Dr. Asofou So’o and former Chief Executive Officer of the Public Service Commission, Fa’amausili Dr. Matagialofi Lua’iufi.
“There is a fundamental lack of effective leadership over and within the health sector, which is now in a critical state of dysfunction and has been torn asunder by sector wide hostility, suspicion and conflict,” the report says.
“This woeful state of affairs has been allowed to continue, and indeed flourish through a lack of attention and an unwillingness at the highest level to stamp out the destructive behavior and arrogant behavior of certain sector health leaders and their followers.”