At the final sitting of the Niue Legislative Assembly this year, the Health Practitioners Bill was presented with a certificate of urgency to the Fono Ekepule this morning by Minister of Health Sauni Tongatule, and by this afternoon was passed into law.
The Health Practitioners Act 2021 establishes a registration regime for health practitioners working in Niue.
The law will allow for a Board to grant annual practicing certificates for health practitioners.
Assemblyman from Toi, Hon. Dion Taufitu believes that a similar professional standards Board should also be established for the Education sector, where teachers have to be certified to teach.
The Board is made up of the Chief Medical Officer who will chair the Board, the Chief Dental Officer, the Principal Nursing Officer, the Head of Public Health, the Government’s Solicitor General, and two independent members appointed by Cabinet.
A person may only be registered as a health practitioner if the person meets the requirements for that particular type of health practitioner.
The list includes dentists, medical imaging technicians, medical laboratory technicians, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, and physiotherapists.
This certification process will also help health practitioners so that they are not required to return to their respective jurisdictions where they qualified to be recertified.
Anyone caught working as a health practitioner without certification in Niue will incur penalties as high as $30,000.
A person may appeal the decision of the Board to the Director of Health which caused some robust discussions in the Fono because the Chief medical officer can also be the Director of Health.
Common Roll MP Stan Kalauni said that the wording was not clear and in his interpretation, the Director of Health can overrule the decisions of the Board, however, this was quashed and corrected by the Minister of Health.
The minister explained that the Director of Health can only review the decision of the Board and must provide evidence in the final decision.
The Health Practitioners Act 2021 will come into effect on the 1st of January 2022. The last sitting of the Fono Ekepule ended after midday and the members moved on to their end-of-year Christmas function for the rest of the day.