Tonga seeks New Zealand's support to address pharmacist shortage


Tonga seeks New Zealand's support to address pharmacist shortage

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New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Health and Pacific People's Minister Dr Shane Reti were at the opening of the new facility in Nuku'alofa on Thursday.

The large warehouse facility will hold medical supplies and stock to provide life-saving support especially considering the region has been hammered by natural disasters and climate related events.

Head Pharmacist Leva'itai Asaeli said although she is pleased about the new facility, the Kingdom needed at least 20 pharmacists to meet the health needs of people.

Tonga only has seven pharmacists in the country.

Putting these concerns to Dr Reti, he said he would look into the issue of the shortages but also acknowledged "New Zealand faced a health shortage of its own."

He said health workforce is an issue all over the world.

"We will work with the people of Tonga and their administration as to how we can collaborate to help meet their workforce shortages alongside the shortages that we have as well," he said.

Asaeli said the nation desperately needs more pharmacists and asked New Zealand's help with its two year training programme, with the aim of equipping more Tongans to take on the vital health role.

The Tongan Crown Prince and Princess attended the ceremony as special guests alongside the NZ delegation and Tonga's Acting Prime Minister Samiuela Vaipulu and Health Minister Dr Siale 'Akau'ola.

For more news from around New Zealand, go to RNZ.