Response to Islands Sun news article – Stranded nurses may not get support here

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to respond to the news item published on Tuesday 12 October 2021, by the Island Sun newspaper which has obviously misled readers into thinking that the Ministry of Health does not care about the nurses in Vanuatu, whom the paper claimed as stranded. 

Link to the news piece here:

Following the news article, public commentaries published in the letters to the editor’s column of the same newspaper and today in Solomon Star accusing the Ministry of Health of turning a blind eye on the stranded nurses in Vanuatu is a classic example of the public being misled simply from poor organization of reporting and framing of quotes. 

The Ministry of Health was invited to the Press Conference organized by the Prime Minster Office to respond to the question of what the government is doing with the nurses while awaiting charter or repatriation flight since their employment contracts had lapsed. 

Mr. Michael Larui, the National Director of Nursing (NDoN), MHMS was appointed to address the question on behalf of health. In his response, he simply informed that these nurses had signed an individual contract with the government of Vanuatu and in doing so resigned from the Ministry of Health through the Ministry of Public Services. This was their individual choice and decision. The Ministry of Health is therefore not a party whatsoever to these nurses’ employment contract in Vanuatu. 

The title and opening paragraphs of the news report, which in part stated that “Stranded Solomon Islands nurses in Vanuatu may not be getting any support from the national government”, was never at all a part of Mr. Larui’s statement nor message unfortunately the article had framed the statement in such a manner.    

NDoN had expressed sentiments of sympathizing with the nurses and their families stating that it was an unfortunate situation, referring to lapse of contract but due to COVID-19 could not return soon after. He went on to reiterate and compliment the statement of the Attorney General that being a responsible government they will surely be repatriated home as repatriation program of the government for our people abroad is still ongoing. 

Unfortunately again, the reporter did not see this as important to include as part of NDoN’s statement in the article which has framed Mr. Larui and therefore the Ministry of health in the negative towards the nurses in Vanuatu. 

We all care about the nurses, they are our people, it is just simply beyond the Ministry of Health’s mandate or scope of responsibility to either take care of them while they are waiting for their return flight nor bring them back. 

Should the nurses return and decide to return they can but will have to follow the normal application process once opportunity is available. 

Finally, the latest information that was received from the nurses is that no one is stranded as per the title of the newspaper’s news item. What the nurses are waiting for is the repatriation flight, which is already organised by Solomon Islands Government.