Cook Islands Launches 10-Year Health Workforce Plan

Plan focuses on building human resource capacity in the healthcare sector

By Melody Cargill 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 9, 2017) – The Cook Islands Ministry of Health launched the Cook Islands Health Workforce Plan for 2016-2025 at the Rarotongan Hospital yesterday.

Health minister Nandi Glassie said the ministry was privileged to have such a plan as it had given it a lot of energy and focus.

Glassie said the plan showed the ministry was working towards making sure staff were trained to the best of their ability.

“If that means we have to send them overseas to the right institutions to be trained, we will do that. I will say that the importance of skilled staff adds a lot of service to the delivery of health services overall.”

He said the plan was in place for the next 10 years and covered a number of specialised areas within the ministry.

“The plan includes a lot of monitoring in terms of human resources and at the end of the day we would like to believe that for the ministry to be successful and improving, 80 per cent of our time and focus should be invested in the importance of human resources.”

The workforce plan was initiated through the Health Workforce Plan of 2010-2020 and the subsequent Clinical Health Workforce Plan 2015-2020.

Glassie said the Cook Islands workforce had achieved a great deal despite the challenges of a small and dispersed population, a limited revenue base and the pressures of an international marketplace for health professionals.

In completing the plan various challenges had been identified by the ministry including financial constraints, the difficulty of attracting students to a health-related career and retaining the workforce.

The workforce plan proposes to substantially build capacity and capability by 2025 and to attract specialists in general surgery, medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology.

Glassie said other aims included strengthening general practice training in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Pukapuka and bolstering general nursing practitioner training and development with a view to providing health leadership across all outer islands.

He acknowledged the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the ministry itself for commissioning the plan.

Glassie also thanked New Zealand-based company Health Specialists Ltd, Dr Tearikivao Maoate, Debbie Sorensen and Dr Adrian Field for completing the plan.

Cook Islands News
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