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Assistance marks second time Solomons has helped fill shortage

By Thompson Marango PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 27, 2011) – The neighboring Solomon Islands have stepped in again to answer Vanuatu’s shortage of nurses in the health sector with the arrival of 24 more qualified nurses.

Solomon Islands Minister of Public Service, Alfred Ghiro accompanied the nurses and their families to Port Vila and officiated their handing over to the Vanuatu Health Minister, Willie Ruben in a family fitting ceremony this week, depicting the strong Melanesian values shared by the two countries.

The arrival of the nurses marks the second intake from the Solomon Islands to boost the number of nurses in Vanuatu under an agreement made by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Service, the Solomon Islands Nursing Council, and the Vanuatu Government.

[PIR editor’s note: Earlier in July, 25 nurses from the Solomon Islands, the first group to be used in Vanuatu, were set to arrive in August as part of an agreement between the two Melanesian countries as long-term arrangements were finalized for future support.]

"The 24 nurses are here to serve our sisters and brothers from the Melanesia Nation of Vanuatu," said the Solomon Islands Minister of Public Service, Alfred Ghiro.

"The 24 nurses that I am handing over this afternoon on behalf of my Government and the people of Solomon Islands to the Government and the people of the Republic of Vanuatu are some of our best and experience nurses of the Solomon Islands. They are well trained even with post basic and post graduate knowledge, skills and competencies, to provide nursing and health care that the people of Vanuatu needs. They are here to provide you the nursing and health care needs that you have convey and requested from the people of Solomon Islands."

The 24 nurses, both male and female will work under a 3-year-contract with the Public Service Commission.

Daily Post understands that all traveling expenses and all other expenses are met by Vanuatu Government including traveling allowance for married nurses, their spouses and two kids in the family.

According to the Health Minister, Willie Ruben, a supplementary budget of Vt20 million [US$161,520] was passed by Parliament to cover the salaries and other costs of the Solomon Island nurses.

He said the handing over of the nurses marks a very important day for both the people of the Solomon Islands and the people of Vanuatu.

"Because it is today that we will reaffirm solidarity and relationship between the two countries through this very unique human resources exchange arrangement. This paints a new chapter in the political trade relations between the two countries," said the Health Minister.

The current group marks the second intake of Solomon Islands Nurses to after the Ministry of Health faced problem with shortage of nurses which forced the country to seek assistance from Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to allow nurses to travel and work in Vanuatu.

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