Friday 20th December, 2019
Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Assalamo-alaikum and Noa’ia e mau’ri. I would like to extend the season’s greetings to you all. As we reflect on the year that has been, it is vitally important that we continue to remind ourselves of the immense honor and privilege that has been bestowed upon us as Doctors. We are amongst the most privileged people in our beloved nation as not only do we get to help our countrymen in need but we are rewarded with salaries that are in the top bracket for Civil servants. As alluded to in my earlier address, this increment is only recent with the current salary structure coming into existence as of August, 2016. Prior to that, we as a profession were not compensated appropriately. It was through high level negotiations that the Fiji Medical Association through its landmark Budget submission was able to broker the current remuneration scale. It is with some degree of sadness and nostalgia that we acknowledge some of our older colleagues who served with gusto for long periods on very little salary. They did not enjoy the lofty salaries that we do. They are the giants, on whose shoulders’ we stand today, tall and theirs were the sacrifices from which the seed of prosperity was born; the fruits of which we are enjoying today. Our younger colleagues start on salaries that are far greater than what seasoned consultants used to earn in the yesteryears. It is important that our younger colleagues acknowledge this fact and not take anything for granted. Our concern is that we have had reports about negative behavior observed in our midst. We need to be vigilant of such behavior as it can be taken as reflecting our collective professionalism. We all have an obligation to support each other in upholding the reputation and integrity of the profession. We need to continually justify why we are amongst the top salary earners in our beloved nation by being the consummate professionals, by being the hardest workers and by embracing our public at large. We must genuinely love the profession and that means embracing the challenges in addition to the perks and we must do so whole-heartedly.
We would like to inform our members that we have had discussions regarding post-graduate scholarships for next year with the powers that be and we have been reassured that the Government will continue to provide post-graduate scholarships next year to the amount of $1 Million. The Doctors are the only profession in the Civil Service that are given this kind of privilege. We receive scholarships for post- graduate training. Our fellow Civil servants do not have this privilege and if they wish to further their qualifications, they have to pay for it themselves. Also, in instances, they have to take time off work to get further training and qualifications so this comes as a double financial burden. The onus is on us to make sure that if we are sponsored post-graduate students, we do everything in our power and beyond to successfully complete our training and get that qualification. Post-graduate training is not easy. Everything else in your life needs to take a back seat with good patient care and fulfilling training requirements, passing exams, writing up papers taking precedence. For those who think they can “have a life” during training, you are in for a rude awakening; there are not enough hours in the day and you are swimming upstream against a strong current. You have to be mentally, socially and in fact holistically prepared to knuckle down for those 4 years to get your Master’s Degree. There is no margin for error, no room for complacency. If you fail, you can say goodbye to you scholarship the following year and you have to pay the year’s study out of pocket. Yes, with great privilege comes great responsibility. There are a few students that are funding their own post-graduate studies and one only needs to look at how hard they work as they cannot afford to waste their money. Our concern is that if the completion rate for post- graduate studies deteriorates, then this privilege can also be taken away and we will be in the same boat as the other civil servants.
On a brighter note, we are pleased to confirm the dates for next year’s Annual Scientific Conference is from the 4 th to the 7th of September, 2020.The theme is an excellent one, “Collaboration is the New Innovation for Health” and we will be having our conference next year at the \prestigious Shangri La Fijian Resort in Sigatoka. We are actively negotiating with the resort for the best rates and his information will be continually emailed and vibered to you by our secretariat. We have negotiated room rates at $365/night and the total for 3 nights comes to $1, 095.00. Add on to this the registration fees which we have kept the same at $500.00 and your total cost for this conference comes to $1, 595.00. That sum is a bargain for the venue and the caliber of the conference we are going to have and it is well within the 5% CPD allowance of all our members. So I urge you all to book your rooms early as they are limited rooms on this special rate and you will be attending the best conference to date. Over the next 15 pay cycles, if you set aside $106.33 per pay then you would have met your financial target and be able to attend this conference.
I wish you all a blessed Christmas and urge you to stay safe during this festive season. Please do not drink and drive. Stay vigilant and enjoy this period with your loved ones.
Vinaka vakalevu, Khuda Hafiz, Daniyabaad and Fa’eksia
Dr Basharat Munshi
Fiji Medical Association