Category Archives: PRESS RELEASE

First Fiji Albinism Awareness Symposium

First Fiji Albinism Awareness Symposium


Minister for health and medical services Mr Jone Usamate with Margot Whitfeld (second from left) and other participants at the symposium.

The Hon. Minister for Health & MedicalServices Mr Jone Usamate officially opened the first Fiji Albinism Awareness Symposium at the Holiday Inn in Suva.


This 2 day seminar was about promoting albinism awareness and education, and will enable more people to learn about the health components of albinism. It will also enable relevant authorities to support people with albinism so that they can lead full and supported lives.

Albinism is a rare genetic disorder that causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no colour. People with albinism are at risk of developing skin cancer and have low vision problems.

One of the objectives of this program is to establish qualitative data on the numbers of people with albinism in Fiji, to identify the exact numbers and the demographic distribution of this condition. This will help the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Education to direct the correct resources to meet the needs of the people with albinism. Much needed awareness will also be raised particularly around skin, health and low vision support.

“Inclusion of all people is one of the basic philosophies of the Fiji Government and this symposium was planned by the Fiji Albinism Project steering committee based at Mataika House”, said Mr Usamate.

The group discussions on the second day of the symposium will enable participants to come up with new ideas from a multi-sectorial point of view, with ways to support people with albinism, for review and analysis by the Fiji Government.

Mr Usamate added that this will have the potential to dramatically improve the health, education and quality of life of those important members of our community with albinism.

This program is supported The Australian College of Dermatologists, Australian Private Sector Donors, St Vincents Hospital Sydney and the Pulse Programme GSK


Health: Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable

 Health: Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable  


The Hon. Minister for Health & Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate said that while recent research has shown that Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a common cause of death in the pacific, it is preventable through early diagnosis and targeted interventions.

This was revealed today at the launch of the next phase of the RHD Prevention and Control Programme at Novotel, Lami.

“Rheumatic Heart Disease is a common heart condition in Fiji. RHD causes significant morbidity, disability and mortality through childhood and into early adulthood. Recent research has shown that RHD is the most common cause of death for men aged in their 30-40s in Fiji, with death rates also high for teenagers”, said Mr Usamate.

Rheumatic Heart Diseases is caused by streptococcal throat infection which leads to rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is an illness commonly seen in children and young adults in Fiji that can lead to heart valve damage.

The Ministry of Health & Medical Services has recently formalized its relationship with Cure Kids New Zealand as partners and co-founders on the next phase of the $5m RHD Control and Prevention Programme for Fiji.

Some of the key elements of the project to be undertaken over the next three years include training of health workers to identify and manage sore throats and skin infections, identify and manage ARF and RHD cases, capture key RHD data, integration with existing health information systems, and cost-effective low-tech interventions such as strengthening primary care treatment of sore throat and skin sores.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund is a major contributor to the Programme along with the technical support provided the by international RHD experts from the Centre for International Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Australia and the Auckland District Health Board, New Zealand.





The Minister for Health and Medical Services Hon. Jone Usamate today visited the TISI Sangam School of Nursing and acknowledged the partnership between the school and government in terms of educating more nurses for the country.

“I am impressed with the midwifery models and the capabilities of this school to cater for more nurses for our country,” Minister Usamate said.

Minister Usamate said the institution’s midwifery models allowed students to understand working with real life situations.

“It is very good, the school intends to raise the competency of these student nurses as they are experimenting on models.”

The Health Minister also acknowledged the school for investing in the training of nurses.

“The organisation’s investment will have a positive impact on the people, and when the students graduate they are already well versed with their profession.”

Mr Usamate said he looked forward to more partnership with the school in producing more and better nurses for Fiji.

Mr Usamate added that in the next five years the Ministry will work on increasing the number of nurses in Fiji.

“But with this we must have quality staff who know what their work is and are passionate about the work they do,” Usamate added.