In response to interest from the media, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is clarifying details regarding the tragic deaths of two United States citizens (Mr David Paul, 37; Mrs Michelle Calanog Paul, 35) who arrived in Fiji on Wednesday the 22nd of May.
Investigations into the cause of death are ongoing. Influenza has been ruled out, and at this stage we do not believe there is any risk to the public. It would be premature to speculate further on the cause of death until the investigation is complete.
Monitoring of the small number of staff and health workers who came into close contact with the deceased couple was conducted, and as a precaution remains ongoing. All are currently well.
The Ministry is coordinating with the US Embassy in Fiji and working closely with the Fiji Police Force’s forensics department, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine the cause of death, with these organizations providing technical support.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young couple at this difficult time.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) continues to monitor communicable diseases such as leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue fever and influenza in the country. In recent weeks with the adverse weather conditions, the respective authorities have placed emphasis on the surveillance of communicable disease, early detection, management and public health response measures.
The MHMS declared an outbreak of leptospirosis for the Central on Tuesday the 29th of January this year. The Central Division has since reported a total of 8 leptospirosis deaths during this outbreak period with the first 5 deaths occurring between the months of January to April of this year. The recent 3 deaths occurred shortly after the bad weather that was experienced over Easter.
In light of this the public has been urged to prevent themselves from getting leptospirosis. This includes practices such as not swimming in flooded waters after heavy rainfall, wearing closed shoes when working on farms and flooded waters and following good sanitation and hygiene practices such as thoroughly washing utensils and food before use and storing food safely away from rats and other rodents.
Members of the public are also reminded that communicable diseases are preventable and people should adhere to the messages relayed to them by MHMS which includes simple health habits such as proper hand washing practices after the use of toilets and before eating, boiling unsafe water before drinking, avoid swimming in flooded waters as well as destroying mosquito breeding sites.
The combined effort of the health authorities and the general public in advocating safe health practices and maintaining clean environments is expected to minimize the risks of the sources of such diseases and assist them in their efforts to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
People are therefore advised to seek medical attention early to minimize the risks of developing complications as usually patients present late to health facilities with advanced stages of these diseases.
Hon Dr. Waqainabete handing over Fiji’s gift to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland following the successful conclusion of Fiji’s Chairing of the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting
The Honourable Minister for Health and medical services Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete successfully chaired the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) in Geneva.
Whilst opening the session the Honourable Waqainabete shared with the 53 Member countries of the Commonwealth family the spirit of ‘talanoa’ beside the traditional kava bowl in the Fijian context as essential to sharing health issues and challenges whilst at the same time deliberate on resolutions.
With that same spirit the Hon Minister called on the Health Ministers to work together and put their differences aside.
The one day meeting was attended by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland and the Director General of the World Health Assembly Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. Meeting was concluded successfully with key objectives achieved.
The outcomes document of the meeting is also available for viewing online.