Fiji Parliament Approves Bills To Improve Access To Medical Services

Fast-tracked laws allow qualified doctors, dentists to practice prior to full registration in country

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 27, 2017) – Two Bills fast-tracked under Standing Order 51, allowing Fijians access to better medical services were passed by Parliament last night.

The Bills, which have now become Acts of Parliament, were tabled by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The Bills are the Medical and Dental Practitioner Amendment Bill 2017, and Pharmacy Profession Amendment Bill 2017.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said while the Health Ministry had started recruiting medical specialists to provide Fijians with quality specialised medical care, the Medical and Dental Practitioner Amendment Bill sought to amend the Act to empower the Health Minister to exempt medical or dental practitioners who had acquired the necessary qualifications, skills and experience in their respective medical fields from general or temporary registration.

He told Parliament that under the current Act, a person who had not been registered in Fiji and whose application for registration had been accepted was granted a provisional registration for four months during which the person must be supervised by a designated local medical or dental practitioner.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said under the current provisions, a more experienced medical personnel being hired from overseas had to be mentored.

He said this was problematic and time consuming for medical practices and hospitals that intended to provide medical services urgently to patients.

According to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, the Pharmacy Profession Amendment Bill allows for private hospitals to operate their own pharmacies.

With the current Act allowing that a pharmacy business can only be owned by, subject to the fulfilment of the criteria set out in the provision, a registered pharmacist or registered pharmacists, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this limited the ownership of pharmacy businesses and did not allow other entities or bodies such as private hospitals that provided medical services, to own and operate pharmacy businesses.

Parliament has also passed the Diplomatic Missions and International Organisation Bill 2017 which now exempts diplomatic missions and international organisations from the requirements of the Fiji National Provident Fund Act.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this Bill now allowed organisations such as the World Bank, which had shown confidence in Fiji and the country's future by deciding to move part of its Australia operations and setting up a regional office in Suva.

Opposition argued that more time should have been given to them for their input to the Bills and not fast-tracked under Standing Order 51.

Fiji Times Online.
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