Vision: A Healthy population in Fiji that is driven by a caring health care delivery system. Mission: To provide a high quality health care delivery services by a caring and committed workforce working with strategic partners through good governance, appropriate technology and appropriate risk management facilitating a focus on patient safety and best health status for the citizens of Fiji.

World Health Day and Healthy Cities

  • 07/04/2010

City Administrator, Marica Hallacy,

Dr Ken Chen, World Health Organisation Representative,

City Fathers,

Distinguish Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to be with you.

The concept of Healthy Cities is something we all hold close to our hearts. As mankind progressed and developed to live communally it has become imperative that issues of general security, sanitation, safe water supplies, food security and food safety be addressed. The high density of population in confined space raises many environmental concerns additionally.

The sum total need for a state of positive health has become a genuine concern, globally.

We are experiencing new health issues with better control of infections, post World War Two. Disinfectants, antibiotics and vaccines have given humanity greater potential of aging with grace.

Despite these meaningful gains we note that only 16% of our population live beyond 50 and a smaller 8% live beyond 60 years.

We are experiencing sedentary lifestyles, consuming concentrated fast foods rich in fats. We no longer sweat in the “taitai” /garden. Our children are encouraged to remain indoors, watch cartoons on Television and grow obese. Physical activity is curtailed and the net effect is a premature and high incidence of Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

With all this in mind, World Health Organisation has initiated the concept of Healthy Cities at a global level. What can you as civil society and I, as State Representative, do together to address some of these conditions?

In some countries and cities a whole of society approach has helped address these issues of ill health. Cities have transformed the quality of the lives of its citizens. Practical measures to convert the city environment have had positive impacts and we can learn many lessons.

Cities in Fiji can undertake some of these healthy concepts and we are implementing some measures already in Suva, Lautoka, Nadi and Labasa. Other measures need to be fast tracked.

  • Regular Physical Activity in the form of organised Ministry of Health walks is now undertaken. We trust more members of the community will joining and be encouraged to partake in these efforts eventually in smaller groups too.
  • Health Outreach Clinics during Large Public gatherings, such as the Hibiscus and Sugar Festivals where the Ministry has screenings for Non Communicable disease in now a regular feature.
  • Mobilisation of Health Sanitation staff to compliment The City Health Department to oversee food safety and security in the Market place, supermarkets, butcheries and restaurants is now taking on greater momentum.
  •  Our Environmental officers are being encouraged to revisit the factories and Industrial areas to oversee waste disposal from garages, workshops and factories.
  • A system of grading restaurants is being studied. Restaurants will be graded and the eating public will be aware of the rights to safe and quality food.
  • In the not to distant future working with the Ministry of Local Authority and Environment we trust the physical environment of our cities will become pristine once again. Garbage disposal, control of PET bottles, Aluminium soda cans and plastic bags, styro foam containers will see better disposal and policing.
  • The establishment of several malls in parts of the central business district will encourage citizen’s ability to walk, exercise and relax without the fear of traffic, its pollution with obnoxious gases and safety from traffic accidents. Currently people drive into the city and traffic congestions become problematic. The stress of driving into the city area is matter of great concern.
  • The Ministry of Health will support efforts to beautiful our Botanical Gardens as we feel that our efforts to encourage the elderly to relax in a comfortable environment is important. Already residents of Samabula Old Peoples Home are brought to the sea front in Laucala for relaxation and exercise. The next phase is to bring them closer to nature in Thurston Gardens.
  • Cities like Suva  need to actively address the internal migration of people. Squatter resettlement is needed with available land for meaningful existence now. The burden on health delivery in most developing countries remains enormous with evolving social, medical, educational and employment constraints.
  • The Concept of Healthy Cities cannot be progressed unless we have a whole of society approach. We need to educate not only our young but also our adults on environmental cleanliness. I urge all of you to stop littering as of today. I cannot leave this podium without asking you to take home the simple message that spitting is a health hazard and needs to stop too.

Conclusion.

Healthy Cities can contribute to better quality of living for its citizens. This is not an abstract issue but reality. We can make it happen is we are committed. All of society commitment is necessary.

 

Thank you

Dr Neil Sharma

Minister of Health