Local nurses renew contracts in Vanuatu, 10 decide to return home


Around 54 Solomon Islands nurses have renewed their contracts with the Vanuatu Government for another three years.

Ten that were recently reported to have been stranded in the neighbouring Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila decide not to renew their contract and return to the country based on personal reasons and commitments.

Chairperson of the Solomon Islands Nurses Executive in Vanuatu, Hillary Toloka

Chairperson of the Solomon Islands Nurses Executive in Vanuatu and executive member of Solomon Islands Vanuatu Wantok Association (SIVWA), Hillary Toloka told SIBC News from Port Vila that the nurses are part of the first and second group that signed a two-year contract with the Vanuatu Government in July and September 2019.

Mr Toloka said a total of around 95 nurses signed contracts with the Vanuatu government during the recruitment in 2019 and January 2020.

The first group was recruited in July 2019, second group in September 2019, and final group in January 2020.

The ten were among nurses in the first and second group that had their contracts lapsed in July and September this year.

“Most of us, around 54 of us, re-signed our contracts for another three years, however, the 10 have commitments and plans to return home and decided not to renew their contracts,” Mr Toloka said.

He said the ten traveled over to Port Vila in September after their contracts lapsed because the initial repatriation flight was scheduled for 29th September, 2021.

“The Vanuatu Ministry of Health brought in nurses that worked in the provinces, especially nurses that worked at Santo to be repatriated home, but the repatriation flight was delayed.

“That is why some of them appear in the media, they become frustrated because of the delay of the repatriation flight. Their salary has also ceased after their contracts have lapsed,” Toloka adds.

He said as a result, communities in Port Vila, including the Solomon Islands community there and Church groups step in to assist them on food.

The 10 nurses including the dependents are totaled up to 27 altogether that are still waiting to return to Solomon Islands.

Hillary Toloka speaking to Jared Koli of SIBC News and Current Affairs

The current proposed dates for their travel back to the country has been rescheduled to November 4, 2021 according to Mr Toloka.

“So far, they are fine here, when communities here heard about their situation they decided to assist them with food, I think the [Vanuatu] Ministry of Health is committed to giving them per diem and gratuity,” he said.

SIBC News understands that officials from Vanuatu’s health ministry travelled to Solomon Islands in June 2019 and carried out a recruitment drive. The initial contract the nurses signed was for two years with a provision to renew it.

The Vanuatu Public Service Commission has said that it will be reviewing its agreement on recruiting nurses from the Solomon Islands.

A statement from the Vanuatu Public Service Commission said some changes needed to be made to the Memorandum of Understanding to fit the new Government Remuneration Tribunal determination.

by Jared Koli

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