Ifereimi Waqainabete

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Ifereimi Waqainabete

Ifereimi Waqainabete 2019.jpg
Waqainabete in 2019
Minister for Health and Medical Services
Assumed office
22 November 2018
Prime MinisterFrank Bainimarama
Preceded byRosy Akbar
Personal details
Political partyFijiFirst

Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete is a Fijian politician and Member of the Parliament of Fiji who is the current Minister for Health and Medical Services in the FijiFirst government. Before entering politics Dr Waqainabete was a general surgeon in Fiji and Associate Professor of General Surgery at Fiji National University, former President of the Fiji Medical Association, President of the Pacific Island Surgeons Association, and former Chairman of Fiji Medicinal Board. He was on leave from his academic and surgical duties to partake in the 2018 elections as a candidate for the Fiji First Party.

Early life[edit]

Dr Waqainabete is from Moala, Lau in Fiji. His father was a PWD engineer and therefore his family moved a lot in his early school days. He attended primary schools at Draiba Fijian, New Farm State School in Brisbane, Australia and at Delainamasi Government school. He completed high school education from Lelean Memorial, Natabua High School, Labasa College and Nasinu Secondary.

Medical career[edit]

Ifereimi Waqainabete studied at the Fiji School of Medicine, now under Fiji National University, graduating with MBBS in 1996. He was the President of Fiji School of Medicine Student's Association. During this time, he helped successfully petition for the Autonomy of Fiji School of Medicine from the Ministry of Health. This resulted in the significant growth of the then Fiji School of Medicine and its ability to petition separately for donor support.

He joined the surgical training program in Fiji and graduated with a Master of Medicine in Surgery from the Fiji School of Medicine in 2003.

Career in New Zealand[edit]

After being awarded the Rowan Nicks scholar award in 2003,[1] Dr Waqainabete moved with his family to New Zealand and worked in the position of senior registrar in General surgery at the Palmerston North hospital to gain further experience in surgery.

He moved back to Fiji to work for few years, then later returned to Christchurch, New Zealand as an Upper GI and Hepatobiliary fellow at Christchurch hospital in 2012. The following year he worked as Breast and Endocrine fellow at Christchurch hospital in 2013.

Return from New Zealand[edit]

On return to Fiji from his first set of rotations to New Zealand, Dr Waqainabete practiced as a general surgeon at CWM Hospital. During this time he was appointed as the Medical Superintendent to CWM Hospital, a role that he served from 2009-2011. He left this role in 2012 to take up further surgical fellowships in New Zealand.

The years working concurrently as the sole Ministry of Health General surgeon and as Medical Superintendent was a busy period for Dr Waqainabete as he also supervised a large cohort of trainee surgeons from Fiji and the Pacific.

During this time, he was notoriously famous amongst his trainees for his 3am or 4am ward rounds. This would begin from the Acute Surgical ward at CWM rounding through ICU, new surgical wing and Namosi ward. He would then take a tutorial for the trainee surgeons at 7am or on non-tutorial days, take his trainees out for a coffee, completing all this before 8am and then be seated back in his medical superintendent office by 8. His senior trainee surgeons would be able to call him back out of office for surgical emergencies if needed and similarly at night.

2014-current: appointment to FNU and academia[edit]

On his return to Fiji for the second time from New Zealand, Dr Waqainabete commenced work back in CWM hospital as a consultant surgeon. Soon after he joined the Fiji National University College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences department of Surgery as Associate Professor in Surgery.[2] It is usual for an FNU appointed surgeon to provide surgical services to the hospital as part of the agreement between FNU and Ministry of Health. He is the current the Head of Department of Surgery, Anaesthesia and Women's Health in FNU.[3]

Fiji Medical Association[edit]

Dr Waqainabete is the current President of the Fiji Medical Association and has been re-elected several times in the past.

In 2000, as the FMA president, the FMA executives petitioned for success increase in on-call allowances. It was common for doctors to work 24 hours straight on call and continue to work the next day with an allowance of only $10 on top of their basic salary.

in 2016, as the President of the FMA, Dr Waqainabete together with the FMA executives petitioned for and successfully persuaded the Fiji First Government to increase salary for all doctors in Fiji by 50-100%.[4] This was passed in the 2016 budget and implemented immediately. Prior to this doctors in Fiji were underpaid and frequently worked many hours over the 76 hours per fortnight without compensation.[5] Fiji constantly suffered from an exodus of highly trained medical professional leaving to work in New Zealand and Australia, citing remuneration as one of the major factors.[6]

Having experienced the better work conditions of doctors in New Zealand, he is an advocate on safety, well being and preventing burnout of doctors in Fiji.[7][8]

Pacific Island Surgeons Association (PISA)[edit]

In 2018, at the combined GSA/PISA meeting, the Pacific Islands Surgeon Association held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elected the board of executives. Dr Waqainabete was elected as the President of the Pacific Island Surgeons Association, taking over from Lord Viliame Tangi, Chief General Surgeon of Tonga.

At the AGM, surgeons from East Timor and Papua New Guinea also expressed interest in joining PISA which was welcomed by current members.

Relations with the Australasian College of Surgeons[edit]

In his current academic and surgical capacity, Dr Waqainabete[9] maintains close relations with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons[10] a non-profit body that maintains surgical training standards in Australia and New Zealand as well and supports global health initiatives.[11]

The continuing relations led to a historic combined General Surgeons Association Australia meeting with the Pacific Island Surgeons Association in Denarau, Fiji 2018 and was attended by over 340 surgeons and trainee surgeons from Australasia and the Pacific.

Rowan Nicks Scholar[edit]

In 2003 Dr Waqainabete was awarded the Rowan Nicks Pacific Island Scholar award by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.[12]

Women in surgery[edit]

Dr Waqainabete supports training of Fijian and Pacific women in surgery. During his tenure at CWM as General surgeon and Medical Superintednant, he supported the first three cohort of women in surgery get selected into the Masters of Surgery training program and they have gone to successfully complete the training program to becoming Fiji first group of female surgeons to complete the training program. All three females successfully completed general surgery training and are now branching out into surgical subspecialties in Peadiatric Surgery (Dr Annette Chang), Plastic surgery (Dr Rachna Ram) and ENT (Dr Fane Lord). Since then, more women have joined the surgical training program in Fiji, leading to the first combined sub-meeting of Pacific Women in Surgery and Royal Australasian College of Surgeon's women in surgery delegates at the GSA//PISA[13] meeting in Denarau, Fiji 2018.

Public health campaigns[edit]

Working as a general surgeon in Fiji, Dr Waqainabete some of the surgical load of complications related to non-communicable lifestyle disease especially Diabetes. After performing unprecedented number of lower limb amputations due to Diabetic Foot sepsis, he is frequently in the media to raise awareness on this issue.[14] Similarly, running the breast cancer clinic in CWM hospital, he saw that the breast cancer related morbidity and mortality is high amongst women in Fiji due to delayed diagnosis and late presentations. He is supports raising awareness on Breast cancer and Pinktober Campaign.[15]

Political career[edit]

In 2018, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete joined the Fiji First party as a one its candidates for the 2018 general elections in Fiji. Though not on social media himself, his supporters developed a page on Facebook in support with the page generating more than 2000 followers within 10 days.[16]


Dr Waqainabate believes in equality regardless of race, gender or privilege. He has said 'As a surgeon I realised that on the inside we are all the same. There is no Itaukei Liver or IndoFijian Liver. We are all the same', referring to the longstanding racial issues in Fiji. He also states that he realises that the Itaukei lands are protected forever.

Personal life[edit]

Hailing from Moala, Lau, Dr Waqainabete practices surgery in Suva. He is married to Dr Miriama Waqainabete who also went to the Fiji School of Medicine and they have 4 children together.[17]


  1. Management of malignant pleural effusions by talc pleurodesis[18]
  2. Sigmoid volvulus in pregnancy: case report and review of literature.[19]


  1. ^ "RACS" (PDF).
  2. ^ (RACS), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. "Global Health Programs". www.surgeons.org. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  3. ^ "Ex- student Will Lead FNU Postgrad Surgery Classes | Fiji Sun". fijisun.com.fj. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  4. ^ Conduit, Rox. "FBC News". www.fbc.com.fj. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  5. ^ Conduit, Rox. "FBC News". www.fbc.com.fj. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  6. ^ Oman, Kimberly (2009). "Specialist training in Fiji: Why do graduates migrate, and why do they remain? A qualitative study". Human Resources for Health. 7: 9. doi:10.1186/1478-4491-7-9. PMC 2652983. PMID 19216766.
  7. ^ "Tired Doctors". FijiTimes. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  8. ^ "DOCTORS WANT SECURITY | Fiji Sun". fijisun.com.fj. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  9. ^ (RACS), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. "Interviews with Surgeons". www.surgeons.org. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  10. ^ (RACS), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. "About RACS". www.surgeons.org. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  11. ^ (RACS), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. "Global Health Programs". www.surgeons.org. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  12. ^ (RACS), Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. "Rowan Nicks Fellowships and Scholarships - Scholars". www.surgeons.org. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  13. ^ "GSA Annual Scientific Meeting". asm.generalsurgeons.com.au. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  14. ^ "Dr Waqainabete: 25% of Adults Will Have Diabetes By 2020 | Fiji Sun". fijisun.com.fj. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  15. ^ "Breast cancer incidents increase". FijiTimes. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  16. ^ "Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  17. ^ FijiFirst (2018-09-24). "Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete – FijiFirst". fijifirst.com. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  18. ^ Waqainabete, Ifereimi (September 2006). "Management of malignant pleural effusions by talc pleurodesis". Pacific Health Dialog. 13 (2): 103–105. ISSN 1015-7867. PMID 18181397.
  19. ^ Serafeimidis, Costas; Waqainabete, Ifereimi; Creaton, Anne; Vakamacawai, Esala; Kumar, Ronal (August 2016). "Sigmoid volvulus in pregnancy: case report and review of literature". Clinical Case Reports. 4 (8): 759–761. doi:10.1002/ccr3.617. ISSN 2050-0904. PMC 4974422. PMID 27525078.

External links[edit]