Dr. Neil Sharma – Minister for Health – Fiji

It is indeed a pleasure to be here this evening to witness Fiji Cancer Society launches its website alongside rebranding itself.

However more importantly, I am here to address an area of global concern- Cancer.

Cancer, a non communicable disease has become a global epidemic affecting people of all ages. Unfortunately cancer cases in Fiji have steadily increased over the past several years. Cancer is the 3rd most common cause of death in Fiji.

In Fiji, statistics reveal that there is mostly an increasing incidence of breast, cervix and other reproductive tract cancers in women. In men cancers such as prostate, liver, rectum and lung cancer are becoming commoner.

Since 2009 the Health Ministry has made vast improvements in terms of new advocacy and prevention programs.

We have a much more improved national database in collating cancer statistics. We have recently set up a liquid Cytology screening lab and this was preceded by the introduction of HPV virus vaccination initiative supported by the Fiji and Australian Governments. We have in action the V.I.A (Visual Inspection with Acetic acid and Cyro-cautery) as cost effective means to treat precancerous lesions on the cervix undergoing trials additionally. A rudimentary Domiciliary Palliative Service is operational in Suva and the West with the support of the Fiji Cancer Society.

Cancer remains an area of grave concern to our Government, the Health Ministry and our Country. As such Ministry of Health has taken the lead role by addressing cancer.

Fiji has become a member state of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and representatives from the International Atomic Energy Commission will be here to assist in the establishment of a cancer hospital.

We are indeed grateful towards the Bainimarama Government for endorsing health ministry submissions made towards the establishment of a Cancer hospital, the first of its kind in the small island states in the pacific region.

Currently all cancer cases are being managed in the 3 divisional hospitals (Oncology Units). The local treatment used is in the form of surgical intervention and limited chemotherapy. Those requiring radiotherapy are referred overseas through Government assistance.

Having a Cancer Hospital will centralize all the relevant treatment and management protocols and provide a serene environment for patients and families.

This cancer hospital will now cater for radio therapy facilities which will reduce the number of overseas referrals and ensure cost savings for government.

The Health Ministry through its Wellness Concept has continuously advocated and created awareness on cancer prevention and control program.

The Health Ministry is working with the International Women Agencies and is the final stages of setting up a wellness center for women in Suva. We are also working in partnership with UNFPA and other agencies  towards the setting up of a wellness center in Lautoka.

This center will  provide awareness ,information and services to women on sexual, reproductive health, cancer screenings and counseling sessions.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to launch a new website. This website will provide cancer patients and relatives ,patients and the general public information and access to the work that Fiji Cancer Society undertakes.

We continue to support the Fiji Cancer society and encourage transparency, accountability and responsibility towards public funds and charitable work.

The Health Ministry remains committed towards the reduction of cancer morbidity and mortality, improving the survival rates of cancer cases and improving the quality of life of cancer victims.

Thank you!