- Wellness & Media Launch
- Donor Matrix Meeting Monitoring and Evaluation for Aid Effectiveness
- Launch of the Redeveloped Public Health Information System
- Disasters Happen NIMS MNP Intervention as a Nutrition Response to Disasters
- Fiji Group 89 – Swearing in Ceremony Peace CORPS/FIJI
- Allied Health Workers Forum
- Engaging Youth in Child Protection and Womens Empowerment to end Violence Against Women and Girls
- Population Dynamics Post 2015 Development Agenda
- Moving Forward to Making Every Life Count Global Summit on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Bangkok, Thailand
- Bronwyn Carabez of Carabez Alliance
- World Food Day Celebrations
- New Diabetes Eye Care Clinic at Sukuna Ward
- Pacific Eye Institute/CWM Hospital Eye Centre
- Health Promoting Workplace
- Gandhi Day Celebration
- Children’s Heart Foundation
- International Womens Day
- Visitation for Mahaffy Girls Home
- Emergency Care Assistant Course
- Fiji Food Summit 2009
- FMA Symposium - Fiji Health Symposium 2010
- World Health Day and Healthy Cities
- Commissioning of the Wainibokasi Mortuary
- JICA and JOCV in Fiji Health Sector
- World AIDS Day
- Fiji Pharmaceutical Society, Natadola
- Farewell of FSN to FNU
- Opening of Inaugral Suva based Civil Servants
- 160 Bicycles from Japan to Fiji
- National NCD Training of Trainers
- Post Grad Dip in Midwifery Inaugural
- Fiji White Ribbon Safe Motherhood Initiative
- National Health Accounts
- National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Wk
- National Health Workshop
National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Wk
Monday 26th October 2009 – 11am
Venue: Wailea Settlement, Vatuwaqa, Suva
Ministerial Counsellor to AusAID, Ms Judith Robinson;
JICA Representative, Mr Juichiro Sasaki;
WHO Representative in the South Pacific, Dr Chen Ken;
UNICEF Representative South Pacific, Dr Isiye Ndombi;
CEO Save the Children Fiji, Mr Chandra Shekhar;
Residents of Wailea and surrounding settlements,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Good morning to you all.
I am honoured to be here, joining other distinguished guests in celebrating the launch of our third National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Week 2009. I take this opportunity to welcome Ms Judith Robinson, Ministerial Counsellor to AusAID, UN Representative Heads from WHO and UNICEF, Chief Rep JICA Fiji Office, CEO Save the Children Fiji and Government Reps to this very special occasion.
I acknowledge media representatives. I thank them for their important role in sharing and disseminating public health messages within our communities.
National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Week is a special annual event in the Ministry of Health calendar. It highlights the importance of protecting children from vaccine-preventable diseases and at the same time reinforcing the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.
Upon reflecting on the importance of these two interventions for child survival, the theme for this year’s National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Week calls for greater individual, community and national responsibility and support for mothers in achieving the best practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and providing appropriate complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond. For immunisation, the best practice is for parents and health care workers to strive for a fully immunised child by his or her first birthday.
Every year, it is important to remind ourselves that a healthy Fiji islander can only be realised from a healthy start in life. There is no question that optimal infant and young child feeding are essential for optimal growth and development. Also, a fully immunised child is essential for protection against vaccine preventable diseases like pneumonia and meningitis – the consequences of which could impair growth and development.
In the next few days throughout the nation’s health facilities, our staff will be promoting the importance and benefits of early and sustainable breastfeeding practices. They will also be reminding parents and caregivers the benefits of every child completing the routine childhood immunisation schedule against 9 common illnesses before the age of 12 months.
Immunisation has been cited as one of the greatest public health achievements in the last century. Last year in Fiji, there were 19,000 live births, with more than 98% of these occurring in a health facility. Our aim has been to ensure that these 19,000 newborns were exclusively breastfed for first 6 months of life and that by their first birthday; they would have been vaccinated against those 9 childhood illnesses. In doing so, we could then prevent many children from serious illnesses like meningitis, pneumonia, hepatitis B, and even death.
With AusAID funding last year, a national immunisation coverage survey was conducted towards the end of 2008. We are pleased to announce that at 12 months of age, the coverage for measles and rubella was 94% - with rest of the immunisation coverage at 98% or more. This is a remarkable achievement for Fiji after many years and we need all your support to ensure that this remains the benchmark for Fiji from this year onwards. Yes, doing so will allow Fiji and other Pacific island countries to achieve the regional target for measles elimination by 2012.
Based on these recent coverage figures – sadly, about 1,200 children are not fully immunised by the time they reach their first birthday. These children are not protected and hence are vulnerable against many vaccine preventable diseases. The hospitalisation, suffering or unfortunately the death of even one child from a vaccine preventable disease is an unnecessary human tragedy.
Such annual events as we are highlighting today give us all the best opportunity to renew our efforts to ensure that no child will have to needlessly suffer from TB/meningitis, crippling polio, Hib meningitis, hepatitis B infection, tetanus or measles.
Last year Fiji was very fortunate to receive a donation of the human papilloma virus vaccine from Merck USA to immunize young girls against the human papillomavirus and thus protect them against cervical cancer. This donation was worth over $22 million Fiji dollars. With this donation and assistance from AusAID, the Ministry of Health was able to fully immunize 65% of the 18,300 girls who initially consented for the first dose. However, the overall response was only 60% out of a total of 30,300 eligible girls in the age group 9-12 years.
In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to also thank our loyal development partners in this endeavour to improve and maintain the health and wellbeing of our children in Fiji.
I would like to thank AusAID through FHSIP who have been the main sponsor of this event and very supportive of Fiji’s EPI programme, JICA for their continuing support to Fiji’s cold chain system, infrastructure and staff training through JPIPS, and our UN technical and funding partners of WHO and UNICEF.
The Ministry of Health looks forward to you all in your continuing support - including welcoming a new player in the team: Save the Children Fiji. Yes, we hope that this new partnership with Save the Children will provide synergy in ensuring that health services reach the most vulnerable and marginalised populations in settings such as Wailea settlement for this year’s launch of National Immunisation and Breastfeeding Week. As service providers, we must ensure that immunisation and other health services reach those who need it most – the unfortunate and underprivileged ones in our society.
I thank you all once again and may I wish everyone here today and throughout the country a successful week of health activities in supporting breastfeeding and immunisation.
Let us all support mothers, parents, and our communities in providing our children the best start in life here in Fiji.
May I now declare and officially launch the National Breastfeeding and Immunisation Week 2009 for Fiji.
Dr Neil Sharma.
Minister of Health