The nationwide constant shortage of nurses will not be solved unless the Vanuatu Nursing College of Education (VNCE) is relocated to a much bigger space and equipped with better resources to produce more students.
This statement was made by the Acting Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Director of the Public Health Department, Len Tarivonda.
Acting DG Tarivonda said the MOH is exploring strategies to transform VNCE to meet the rising demand for more nurses. The nurse shortage problem has been crippling health service delivery in Vanuatu for a long time.
Currently, the nursing school does have the capacity of producing enough qualified nurses every year, said the Acting DG.
“The aging population continues to grow; we have lost a lot of health staff to retirement in 2017 and many more are close to retiring.
“VNCE is not producing enough graduates to meet the workforce needs.
“If the nursing school is going to breed, its current space is not ideal. It needs a much bigger space for expansion and qualified tutors.
“We are also considering the idea of removing the nursing school from the health system and engaging it under the proposed national university.
“A lot of efforts have already been taken to upgrade courses at the institution in preparation for the transition to new degree programs expected next year,” he said.
Tarivonda said they are working on other options to meet the current national nurse demand such as bringing in midwives from Fiji last year for short term.
He said the plan to bring in more nurses from Solomon Islands to fill nurse gaps have been delayed due to technical issues concerning the agreement.