Neonatal nursing in Fiji : exploring workforce strategies to help Fiji achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3, Target 3.2 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in International Development at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
In Fiji 124 neonates lost their lives in 2017. While rates have improved in the Pacific, Fiji’s neonatal mortality rate has remained stagnant. The neonatal workforce struggles to meet the demands of this vulnerable population. Neonatal mortality is a global health challenge which is reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 3, target 3.2. This target aims to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births by 2030.
My research set out to explore and provide some understanding of the development needs of neonatal care globally and review the workforce challenges for nurses in this speciality area in Fiji. Improving the continuum of care for neonates will be critical if Fiji is to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3, target 3.2.
To answer these research questions, I adopted a qualitative methodology. I conducted four semi-structured interviews in Fiji and interpreted qualitative primary and secondary data. In doing so, I came across challenges that were present within programmes, service designs and national policies. Some of these challenges were easily fixed and did not need policy interventions, but rather individual willingness to change. Others required state interventions and long-term commitment and willingness.
When applying the rights-based approach to health framework, my findings showed that the hardworking workforce in Fiji is still trying to change an organisational culture to a point where the workforce can feel fully inclusive and able to make evidence-based decisions as a team. The profound effects of not being able to do this is detrimental to the positive outcome for the neonates in their care. It was evident that health has many determinants and the problem relating to neonatal mortality is complex.
My research showed that the neonatal nursing workforce were committed to reform and an effective health care service with adequate capacity and consumables is needed to run a well-functioning neonatal service. The key conclusions of my research are that there needs to be better collaboration between all sectors, evidence-based research practice and empowerment of the neonatal nursing workforce in Fiji. This is necessary if the government of Fiji is to achieve a neonatal workforce that can support it to achieve the critical Sustainable Development Goals target of reducing neonatal mortality.