Category Archives: SPEECHES

Dengue Fever Campaign – National Planning

Venue: CWMH Grounds
Date: 15th November, 2014

Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media
Staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services
Ladies and Gentlemen

Greetings and a very good morning to you all.

Today is a very important day because we are here to renew our commitment towards preventing further outbreaks of dengue fever:

– dengue fever is a potentially serious viral infection mainly characterized by high fever and severe body aches
– it is transmitted when a person is bitten by a mosquito (which may be carrying the virus)
– this type of mosquito (aedes aegypti or albopictus) is common in our compounds, homes, parks, neighborhoods, bushes and near surroundings

Still fresh in our memories, Fiji most recently had a big dengue outbreak which started in November 2013.

– just over 28,000 people were positively diagnosed with dengue virus by end of the outbreak this year.
– unfortunately, we had a few deaths (14) because of the seriousness of dengue fever.
– dengue is endemic to Fiji which means that we would normally have people getting infected throughout the year (mostly during the rainy season) and we know that we are now into our rainy season….from November to April.

– significantly, the dengue outbreak Fiji just experienced was caused by the dengue type 3 virus which had not been reported in Fiji for over 20 years.
– this meant that a large section of Fiji’s population did not have immunity (body’s resistance) against this dengue type 3 virus since past exposure is necessary to stimulate protective immunity.
– this dengue type 3 virus had also been causing recent outbreaks in some Pacific Island countries over the past 2 years.

So how do we ensure that Fiji is safe from dengue fever and other infections spread by the bite of the mosquito?

It is this very purpose that we are here this morning to launch this national clean-up campaign against mosquitoes:

– the mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus mainly bites during the peak times at dawn (early morning around sunrise) and dusk (immediately after the sun sets).
– these mosquitoes commonly breed in urban areas, around households and most worrying and of concern – this is where most of our population lives.
– artificial containers, like cans, drums and tires, that are allowed to collect water are favoured breeding sites for these mosquitoes.
– the most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to get rid of all mosquito breeding sites….anything that holds water!
– early preparation through regular clean-up and removal of potential breeding sites around and within urban areas is essential in preventing future dengue outbreaks.

What are our main messages for everyone in Fiji this morning?

1. Search and Destroy all potential water-collecting structures within and around your compound – things like tires, drums, tins, bottles, pot-plants – anything that could collect water for the mosquitoes to breed.

2. Be Responsible – do not litter or throw away such water-collecting structures anyhow. Dispose all waste containers properly for the garbage truck collectors.

3. Be Active – join the national campaign by cleaning up your compound. Join others if your neighborhood needs cleaning up!

To everyone listening to this launch program or watching right here at the launch site – you may be wondering why we are launching this clean-up campaign in the CWM Hospital grounds?

Why not in the suburbs – in our densely populated Nasinu or Raiwaqa or in our informal settlements?
Well, for very good reasons:

1. For the recent dengue fever outbreak in Fiji, the Central Division recorded the highest number of patients tested positive for the dengue virus…..and hence most of these patients were cared for here in CWM Hospital

2. Hence, it is a reminder that if we do not follow-up on our campaign messages this morning about cleaning our compounds and neighborhoods of all mosquito-breeding containers…..we could end up here in CWM Hospital with dengue fever!

3. As I speak this morning, our doctors and nurses and other health staff are caring for our loved ones recovering there in the wards of the CWM Hospital. You and I would not want these nasty mosquitoes to be biting them whilst they are recovering from another illness that put them in the wards in the first place!

No! May that never happen! Let us get those nasty mosquitoes!

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in organizing this national launch in our campaign against mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

My sincere gratitude to staffs of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for this proactive stance in raising awareness about the importance of prevention and fighting against the elements that spread dengue to humans.

In other locations around main centres of our beloved Fiji, there will be similar initiatives simultaneously implemented in this campaign against dengue. We need everyone’s support in this effort – it is our business!

I now have the privilege/honour of declaring and launching this national campaign against mosquitoes and also against dengue.

May I also invite other guests and supporters present here this morning to join me and the staff of CWM Hospital and the Health Ministry in a walk around the hospital premises in collecting any containers that could hold water for mosquitoes to breed.

Vinaka vakalevu and may I wish everyone a successful clean-up campaign.

World Diabetes Day Launching

Venue:  Nadi Civic Centre
Date:  14th November 2014

Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Good Morning

–                Distinguished guests, teachers, students, ladies, gentlemen and valued members of the community,

I have the pleasure to be here today with you all to launch the World Diabetes Day for Fiji, here in Nadi Town. When we speak of ‘launching’ this day, there is no celebration to be had. We are not celebrating the presence of Diabetes in our communities, but rather trying to raise awareness, educate and motivate our people to help prevent, reverse and stop this killer disease.

As many of you know (Type 2) Diabetes is one of our main non-communicable diseases, or what we call ‘NCD’s’ in Fiji.  Currently, 80% of deaths in Fiji are due ‘NCD’s’. These are ‘lifestyle diseases’ and occur when we adopt unhealthy behaviours like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol/yagoona and not engaging in physical activity. These are not diseases you catch from other people, but occur as a result of how we choose to live our lives.

During the….conference in Honiara in 2011, the NCD’s status of the pacific was decalared a ‘crisis’

As many of us now know, Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death for our people in Fiji. This disease does not discriminate.  It affects people from all cultures and backgrounds, male or female, young or old, rich or poor.

According to WHO, worldwide, one person will die from Diabetes every 8 seconds. In Fiji, currently 30% of people have Diabetes and this number is expected to reach 50% in the next 5-10 years if this crisis continues to be ignored. It is estimated that there is 1 lower limb amputation every 12 hours, which means 2 per day and aprox. 730 in one year. The youngest Type 2 Diabetic in Fiji is only 11 years old.

The presence of Diabetes has significant consequences on maintaining our own health and ‘wellness’ in life., Wellness incorporates the body, the mind and the spirit at all stages in our lives. We know that diabetes leads to devastating health outcomes. This can include blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, disability through amputations, erectile dysfunction (sexual problems in males), heart disease, stroke and premature death.

The WHO states that any person that dies before the age of 70 has died prematurely – that means, they’ve died before their time. For Fiji, due to our NCD crisis we have lowered that rate to 60 years of age as many people will not reach the average lifespan that is enjoyed by others in the world.

Diabetes affects each and every one of us from an individual, community and national level.

Individually, a person with diabetes faces countless burdens of this chronic disease on a daily basis. Maintaining blood sugar levels, controlling their diet, taking care of their feet and taking medication are just some of the problems faced daily by those suffering this disease.

The complications of Diabetes leads to increased illness, time off work and increased financial strain on ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation as a whole. For NCD’s, our government allocates $400,000 each year to prevent these lifestyle disease that are killing our people. Imagine what our nation could do with these funds if we were not at this crisis point with NCD’s.

Why is our rate of Diabetes so high?

The answer is quite simple. We have gone from a healthy lifestyle to an unhealthy one. Smoking, a diet high in fat, salt and sugar, our alcohol/kava intake and our lack of physical activity have led to the rise in these NCD’s, particularly Diabetes. Our diet has transitioned from our traditional culture:

  • Changing from traditional staple foods to refined foods,
  •  Instead of fresh local food à eating processed foods,
  •  Increase in individuals calorie consumption from past years to present, that is portion size, –  we choose quantity over quality 

What can we do?

It comes down to 3 things, our mouth, our muscles and our mind.

We need to create positive behaviour change in ourselves to create healthier lifestyles.

We need to focus on the gifts of life to be ‘well’ and stay ‘well’. This means:

  • Breathing –  fresh air (no smoking)
  • Eating a healthy diet… low salt, sugar, fat… eating 5 serves of fruits/vegetables each day
  • Drinking – water…. Limiting alchohol, /kava
  • Moving – getting your 30 mins of moderate intensity exercise each day
  • Thinking – positive thinking. Motivate yourself and your family to choose healthy behaviours.
  • Resting – sleeping 6- 8 hours/ night
  • Reproducing – (at right age)

(Closing statement suggestion)

 From Michelle Obama:

We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.

 Thank you all for your attendance & I declare the Western Division World Diabetes Day Launching open.

God Bless Fiji.

Closing and Launch the National Nutrition Survey 2014 in the Western Division

VENUE:  Ministry of Forestry Conference Room, Lautoka

Date: 14TH NOVEMBER 2014

Divisional Managers


Facilitators in the National Nutrition Survey Training, Western Division


Congratulations, this week’s training confirms that the 2014 National Nutrition Survey is happening in the West! We know how difficult it is to plan and organise surveys of this magnitude. It requires dedication and commitment to accomplish the tasks.

The prospect of gathering new information that will enable us to make comparisons with the past situation is exciting, because it will tell us how things have changed overtime (for the better or worse!) and how effective our intervention programmes have been. Being able to continue gathering nutrition related data every 10 years is an achievement in itself. We should be proud of this – we are the only Pacific Island country that has done this since 1983 on a regular basis.

I would like to stress the importance of the work you are about to embark on, which relates to the value of data. A lot of important decisions are based on the information that you are going out to gather, therefore, you need to put in your best effort to gather reliable information.

I am sure the training you have undergone throughout this week has provided you with the required knowledge and skills to carry out the data collection exercise and I urge you to continue to seek clarification with your coordinators on areas which you are not too sure about.

We all know that we have serious nutrition-related problems such as under-nutrition (anaemia amongst women, malnutrition amongst infants & young children) and over-nutrition (obesity).  The survey findings will give us further insights into why these problems have persisted. Such information will provide guidance on the formulation of evidence- informed policies and intervention programmes.

There have been an increasing number of surveys being undertaken in Fiji which will make your work even more challenging so it is important that you prepare yourself well before visiting selected households in your survey sites. Households need to be convinced that the time they spend with you answering the many questions in the survey will benefit everyone in Fiji.

Your approach to the householders, your patience and your professionalism are important in winning their confidence to cooperate with you.

With those words, I wish to add my best wishes in the challenging work ahead of you and I have much pleasure in declaring the NNS Training close and Launch the National Nutrition Survey for the Western Division.