Health Ministry issues alert on Chickenpox

The Ministry of Health & Medical Services is issuing a health alert to the public after recording an increase in cases of chickenpox within the Suva Medical Subdivision.

This alert is being issued after the number of cases surpassed the Suva subdivision alert threshold of 53 cases per month.   An increase in cases is usually expected between July to October in Fiji, however currently the Suva Medical Subdivision has recorded an increase in cases which is likely to spread.

Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral illness caused by the herpes zoster virus (also known as the Varicella-Zoster virus).

The infection is contagious and anyone who has not had chickenpox or not been vaccinated in the past can get chickenpox.

The symptoms of chickenpox occur two weeks after people are exposed to the virus. Chickenpox may begin with a sudden slight fever, running nose, feeling generally unwell and a skin rash. The rash usually begins as small red lumps that turn into little blisters that usually break leaving scabs.

The virus is spread by coughing in the early stages and later by direct contact with the fluid in the blisters. Pregnant women should avoid contact with anyone with chickenpox and should see their doctor for suspected chickenpox-like illnesses.

Most people recover without complications, but sometimes the infection can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. Rarely, the infection can be fatal.

The public is advised to take precautions in preventing and controlling the disease. People with chickenpox should avoid attendance at childcare, school, work or any public places.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry urges the public to take necessary precautions while people with chickenpox should cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of soiled tissues, wash their hands well and not share eating utensils, food or drinking cups.

Fiji Receives Global Award for Tobacco Control

Fiji has received the global award for tobacco control in recognition for the effective strategies introduced to combat the illicit trade and use of tobacco products.

These strategies include the declaration of tobacco-free villages and community halls, the sale of cigarette rolls and the ban on cigarette smoking in prohibited smoking places.

To supplement the program, the government has also introduced high taxes on tobacco products to deter people from purchasing and consuming them.

The tireless efforts of the Tobacco Control Unit of the Ministry of Health has seen a decrease in social smokers by 7.1% in males and 5.9 % in females.

The Minister for Health and Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate commended the staff of the ministry for their efforts in bringing about behavioural change in the people.

“I am proud of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ tobacco control efforts, but we must keep in mind that it is not only the Government that has a role in combatting illicit trade, it is you and me, and our communities that have a role. Tobacco control requires a multi-sectoral approach with community involvement and support”, said Mr Usamate.

Mr Usamate received the award from the regional representative of WHO Dr Liu Yungao at Holiday Inn last week.

Meanwhile, Mr Usamate signed a MOU with Land Transport Authority to reduce hazardous smoke emissions from vehicles.

Levuka Hospital receives new wheelchairs

The Hon. Assistant Minister for Health & Medical Services Mrs Veena Bhatnagar handed over newly donated wheelchairs to the Levuka Hospital.

The two wheelchairs costing around $3,000, were donated by the LDS Charity to assist patients at Levuka Hospital needing assistance with mobility.

Mrs Bhatnagar said, “It is pleasing to note that religious organisations are providing such timely donations apart from spiritual support to our people. The Health Ministry is thankful and appreciates such gestures”.

“The wheelchairs will provide support towards movement; allow greater mobility, comfort and independence”.

The Health Ministry continues to welcome such support from non-governmental support as they further complement the work and resources that the Fijian Government is already putting towards health services.

Mrs Bhatnagar had visited Levuka earlier this year and identified certain needs for Levuka Hospital. Hence, this donation has been timely in fulfilling their need for wheelchairs.

“Is it also worth noting that these wheelchairs are of high technology and have spare parts for available with backup technical expertise available in Fiji”.

The Hon. Assistant Minister for Health & Medical Services also emphasized the importance of engaging in a healthy lifestyle.

“July is Wellness Month, with the theme Don’t Delay, Get Checked Today. Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) are an increasing problem for Fiji both in terms of increasing economic and social burden”.

“I urge you all to go for health checks, it is only when we do this then we can move towards wellness and staying healthy which in return will contribute towards moving Fiji ahead economically”.

The Health Ministry will continue to work alongside non-government organisations and other partners in further enhancing health service deliveries.