News 13 Mar 2018
As a Workforce Development Consultant at the Waitemata District Health Board, Malcolm Andrews appreciates his work situation. He’s representing an organisation in a country with the resources available to deal with the myriad of health issues affecting the population within its Auckland boundaries.
Originally from well outside those boundaries, Malcolm grew up in the town of Levuka in Fiji.
A standout student, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Wesley College in South Auckland from 2008-09. He returned home, then came back to New Zealand on another scholarship relating to Health Science, Psychology and Health Promotions with AUT. He’s also continuing his studies part-time towards earning a Masters as a Health Professional.
It was there Malcolm truly discovered what he wanted to do.
“I saw Pacific people, including youth, struggling with health problems greater than the overall population,” he recalls.
“It was there I discovered a real desire to help them get into the health workforce, where Pacific people are under-represented.”
It led him to his position as a Workforce Development consultant in Pacific health. One of his chief roles is advocacy, a role that he’s clearly passionate about.
That passion was reflected in the workshop he facilitated at the PISAN Fono regarding Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
For Malcolm, the urge to return to Fiji only grew greater.
“The stories being told about the health systems in various Pacific countries were a real eye-opener,” he says.
“The stats show that the number of people dying from NCDs is growing by 75% through the region. Students were saying resources were going into diagnosing NCDs, with little or no effort being made to develop a preventative approach.
“There’s also concern about the Pacific islands becoming a dumping ground for cheap food with little or no nutritional value.”
His other concern related to the PISAN students he had the pleasure of working alongside.
“Like a lot of the students at PISAN, my ultimate wish is return to my homeland of Fiji,” he says.
“But there are so few new positions available because those who have them don’t want to leave them.”
A lack of career opportunities caused them to look elsewhere.
“Graduates return home and try to make a go of it, but if they can’t get work, they’ll go back overseas to New Zealand, Australia or wherever there’s more opportunities,” he says.
“You can’t blame them. I’m the same … I’m between a job that I love at the Auckland and Waitemata DHBs, and the place I will always call home – Fiji.”
About the Pacific Island Scholars Alumni Network (PISAN)
Malcolm was interviewed at the recent PISAN Fono. The Pacific Cooperation Foundation runs the NZAID Scholars alumni programme that aims to facilitate scholars to be regional leaders with shared views for regional growth/prosperity and utilising the opportunities for the benefit of the region. The PISAN Fono is an annual event bringing together this diverse group of Pacific scholars from New Zealand tertiary institutions and the Fono programme sessions aim to reinforce the strong expectations of these young leaders.