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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 4, 1999 - PACNEWS/Fiji Times)---Fiji soon will welcome 31 doctors from the Philippines as part of and overseas recruiting effort to make up for a shortage of local doctors, the Fiji Times reports.

Fiji's Minister of Health, Leo Smith, said the Public Service Commission has agreed to contract the 31 doctors, who will be stationed in rural areas. The government hopes to have them at their postings within a month.Smith said Fiji needs to bring in overseas doctors to meet the current shortage. He recently returned from China where he sought to hire eye specialists, where he said the government is willing to help Fiji recruit specialists.Smith said Fiji will be self-sufficient in locally-trained, general practice physicians within the next 10 years. Once that goal is achieved, Smith noted, training will focus on preparing local surgeons.

There have also been reports that the government is considering recruiting doctors from India. Fiji has always had a shortage of doctors in the government health care system because of the continuous move of government doctors into private practice, as well as doctors migrating to other countries.

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