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New partnership between POLHN and UniFiji

Published on: 30 November, 2017

In a bid to improve patient care and promote Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the region, the University of Fiji (UniFiji) has teamed up with POLHN. Together they will provide registered nurses with an opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing (Bridging) and Master of Nursing by thesis and Bachelor of Public Heath to the public health workers from Semester 1, 2018.

The partnership between POLHN and UniFiji will allow Pacific nurses to upgrade their skills, knowledge, and education without moving away from their homes. The Saweni-based Lautoka campus will remotely facilitate the accredited programmes via POLHN. The geographically dispersed students will be able to access the programmes at one of POLHN’s 52 e-learning centres located within hospitals in 15 Pacific island countries. They can also be accessed from their internet-connected personal mobile devices. For enrolled students coming from areas with internet constraints, the learning and teaching materials will also be provided on USBs and CDs.

Following the collaboration, UniFiji has engaged a team of experts to redesign its face-to-face nursing and public health curricula in order deliver a high standard of interactive academic modules and assessments to POLHN’s distance flexible learning students. The curriculum designed by UniFiji is geared towards upgrading the Pacific Human Resource for Heath (HRH) and moving toward UHC.

Over the last 13 years, WHO has supported HRH development programmes, POLHN has been plugging the skills gap in the Pacific civil health sector through its innovative mechanism and collaborative partnerships with universities, institutions and ministries of health in the region.

Left to right: Ms. Fazleen (POLHN Country Coordinator), Prof. Prem Misir (Vice Chancellor - UniFiji), Mr. Yasin (Technical Officer - WHO) and Dr. Elick Narayan (Dean - UPSM).

“Our partnership will advance nursing standards and improve patient care in the region as well as worldwide.” said the Vice Chancellor of UniFiji, Professor Prem Misir. “The school believes this partnership will create an entire new advancement in the nursing education,” added the Dean of the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr Elick Narayan.

“Our aim is to provide nurses and public health workers diverse opportunities to advance their career and also equip them knowledge to make informed health related decisions,” said Professor Misir.

To provide basic skills in research and report writing, the university will also develop for POLHN to deliver: English for Academic Purposes and Basic Computer Literacy, which will be prerequisites to the programme.

“The University will develop free-to-take self-paced short courses around various health topics as our corporate social responsibility. In addition to that, the university will be offering Food Safety, Business English and Climate Change via POLHN” said Dr Narayan.

The courses will be ready for enrolment in early 2018 via POLHN.

For more information, contact Mr Mohammed Yasin at the WHO Division of Pacific Technical support (email here), or Dr Elick Narayan, Dean of the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine and Health Sciences at UniFiji (email here).

Preparing the Health Workforce: Closing the Staffing Gap

Published on: 26 November, 2017

In 2014, following an eighteen month health workforce assessment, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services identified 1,256 new positions within the civil health sector. Of these, 553 new posts were immediately approved by the cabinet with the aim of addressing the staffing gap and skills shortage.

The assessment was conducted using the Workforce Indicator of Staffing Need (WISN) and the Service Targets Staff Projection Tool (STSPT), as a joint initiative between the Fiji Health Sector Support Program (FHSSP), the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and World Health Organisation (WHO). It was estimated that the new posts would cost approximately FJD$ 34.9million over the next ten years.

More recently in the 2017-2018 national budget, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services received an increase of $77.2million to accommodate the recruitment of additional doctors, nurses and health workers. This was in order to maintain the WHO threshold of 23 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 population, so as to deliver essential maternal and child health services.

Taking additional measures to close the gap, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services announced a consolidated list of vacant and new positions within civil health sector. Click here to view the 2018 vacancy list.

These positions will be filled using Fiji’s Open Merit Based Recruitment and Selection Guidelines. The Guidelines create transparent and open competition based on eligibility and qualifications, ensuring that the most appropriate applicant is appointed. The system also encourages and assists young highly qualified professional to apply for higher posts.

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Edited by Margaret Goydych

For more information, contact Ms Shivala Singh, country coordinator for Fiji (email here).

Bachelor of Nursing Bridging Program for Registered Nurses

Published on: 25 November, 2017

Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services has recently announced a pay rise based on a merit system for the entire civil health sector, resulting in a drastic increase in the number of nurses enrolling in higher qualification programs

The establishment of the University of Fiji’s medical school, the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine (UPSM), has also increased the opportunities for health care professionals to seek higher education. On top of this, UPSM has recently launched the Bachelor of Nursing bridging program from its Saweni Campus in Lautoka. The program allows nurses with a Diploma in Nursing to upgrade their qualification to a Bachelor’s degree.

Sub-divisional medical officer Dr Vineet Chand, also a final year student undertaking his Master of Public Health, is very adamant about continuing professional development (CPD) for his staff at Rakiraki hospital.

The 30 bed Rakiraki hospital is located in the Western division of Vitilevu, in the province of Ra. The hospital caters for approximately 42,535 outpatients and more than 1000 inpatients on an annual basis.

Dr Vineet encouraged nurses to undertake the initiative and responsibility to upgrade their skills in order to meet the changing demands of the health system. He acknowledged POLHN’s contribution to the development of the Fijian health workforce through its sponsorship for postgraduate study.

Additionally, POLHN’s self-paced courses provide a flexible learning environment to shift workers. Its mobile compatible online platform enables health workers to access courses from their personal devices while waiting for the establishment of the new POLHN centre at the hospital.

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Edited by: Margaret Goydych

For more information, contact Ms Shivala Singh, country coordinator for Fiji (email here).

The journey of Staff Nurse Wainikiti Soqolala

Published on: 18 November, 2017

A registered staff nurse, a mother and part-time Business Management student at the University of the South Pacific (USP) has taken up the challenge to move away from traditional nursing roles to provide better health services to the citizens of Lautoka.

Wainikiti Soqolala always wanted to be a registered nurse. Her dream came true when she was offered a government scholarship in 2002 to pursue a Diploma in Nursing (now known as a Bachelor of Nursing) at Fiji National University (FNU).

After her graduation, she was posted to Fiji’s second largest referral and teaching hospital: Lautoka Hospital, which has 341 beds. Since then she has worked within different specialities: general surgery, medicine, paediatrics, obstetrics & gynaecology and orthopaedic surgery.

Wainikiti’s passion and love for taking care of children has been the driving force behind her career as a paediatric nurse. “Most days, I leave work feeling satisfied with what I’ve done and the children I’ve encountered. I originally didn’t expect to work in the paediatric sector but I certainly don’t regret my choice,” she told POLHN staff.

She is a firm believer that specialised nursing is essential for a contemporary and dynamic health workforce in Fiji. As a clinical leader she provides a pivotal inspiration to junior nurses. “For me nursing is the most rewarding, diverse, and flexible career,” she encouraged them.

Wainikiti plans to apply for POLHN sponsorship to study a Masters in Health Service Management at FNU. This course focuses on theories of management and will assist with streamlining the organisation and day-to-day running of health services. Wainikiti believes that continuing education is essential to people in her field, and is a firm believer in her mantra that “Nurses who continue to learn have a world of options open to them.”

What’s Wainikiti’s message to new nurses? Keep studying! The newly established POLHN learning centre at Lautoka Hospital is full of great new facilities, providing an ideal learning environment for quiet and productive study, where health workers can easily continue their professional development.

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Edited by: Margaret Goydych

Feedback: Fazleen Nisha, country coordinator for Fiji Pacific Open Learning Health Net, Division of Pacific.

Go WHO Career Event

Published on: 13 November, 2017

With the aim of recruiting more staff from the Pacific Island countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is hosting an event called “Go WHO” on 7 December. There is currently an under-representation of WHO staff from some of these countries, so this coaching workshop has been designed to encourage and assist health workers from the region to consider a career with the Organisation.

“Go WHO”, will provide young professionals with the opportunity to speak to current WHO staff about their experiences within the Organisation. The event will inform interested professionals about the recruitment process, policies and procedures. Participants will also get the opportunity to practice for interviews by responding to competency-based questions and get feedback.

The workshop will be held on 7 December from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Fiji National University in Suva. Registration closes on 1 December. Click here to sign up:

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2018 Fiji National University Sponsorship Applications Open

Published on:7 November, 2017

Semester 1, 2018 applications for POLHN-sponsored courses are open from 1 November to 6 January.

From now until January, applications are open for students to undertake sponsored postgraduate health courses at Fiji National University (FNU). Every year, POLHN accepts around 100 students from the Pacific to complete these courses, which are fully funded and done online.

Sponsored courses are available in programs such as health service management, epidemiology and public health. With postgraduate diplomas, Masters degrees and postgraduate certificates all sponsored, there is something for everyone.

These FNU courses are tailored for health workers in the Pacific, and these accredited programs from FNU help develop and improve skills, while also fulfilling continuing professional development (CPD) requirements. Students can also do this through POLHN’s free online self-paced courses, which already have more than 30,000 enrolled students.

All sponsored FNU courses can be completed online on a computer or mobile device, over the internet. There are also a number of POLHN learning centres in hospitals all over the Pacific, so it’s very simple for health professionals to do their university work before or after a shift.

Sponsorship is available for any health worker from a Pacific Island country. They must have a Bachelor’s degree or diploma, and at least 5 years experience with their Ministry of Health. If accepted for sponsorship, POLHN will cover all the costs of their postgraduate course for that semester.

Sponsorship is available for any health worker from a Pacific Island country. They must have a Bachelor’s degree or diploma, and at least 5 years experience with their Ministry of Health. If accepted for sponsorship, POLHN will cover all the costs of their postgraduate course for that semester.

The semester 1, 2018 round of sponsorship applications is open from 1 November 2017 to 6 January 2018. For more information on how to apply, click here.

Edited by: Margaret Goydych

Feedback: Mohammed Yasin, Technical Officer, Pacific Open Learning Health Net, Division of Pacific Technical Support (email here).