Joint Press Release: For immediate release


SUVA, Fiji, 15 June 2018:

Recent headlines on diabetes rates in Fiji highlight the importance of the whole community taking action in protecting their health from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which primarily take the form of heart attacks and strokes.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the World Health Organization (WHO) advise that cardiovascular disease, and not diabetes, is the leading cause of death in the country. In 2017, Fiji experienced almost twice as many cardiovascular-related deaths as those resulting from diabetes. This is in line with global trends; cardiovascular disease takes the lives of 17.7 million people each year, accounting for 31% of all deaths worldwide.

While diabetes-related diseases are not the leading cause of death in Fiji, NCDs like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are major concerns for Fiji.

Cardiovascular disease is more likely to develop in people who smoke, have an unhealthy diet, are not physically active and/or misuse alcohol. A person becomes more at-risk of cardiovascular disease when they have raised blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and/or are overweight or obese.

Prevention is critical for decreasing NCD death rates, and the risk of developing NCDs can be lowered by Fijians making healthy choices for themselves and their families. Being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day, stopping tobacco use, eating more fruit and vegetables, and limiting intake of salt and salty foods all significantly help to prevent the risk of NCDs. Stopping tobacco smoking is the most critical lifestyle change that can be made to avoid the risk.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, with support from development partners such as WHO, is taking a proactive approach to combat NCDs. Early identification of those Fijians who are at risk of developing these diseases is paramount, and this is why all health facilities in Fiji offer free screening services for NCDs and their risk factors. Health facilities can also provide free advice on how to reduce risk.  Screenings and other health programmes are also being delivered in some workplaces and communities, giving Fijians the best chance to make the changes needed to prevent these life-threatening diseases.

Addressing the magnitude of this epidemic requires a coordinated and significant response from the government, civil society, private sector and the community. The future is in our hands, and together, we can turn the tide to ensure we have a brighter, healthier future ahead for all Fijians.

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the World Health Organization have no affiliation or association with the World Life Expectancy website. Information or reports published by World Life Expectancy are not verified or endorsed by either agency.


Notes to editors:

More information about health issues and services in Fiji, visit the Ministry of Health and Medical Services website:

For further information about noncommunicable diseases in the Western Pacific Region, visit the World Health Organization website:

Contact for further information or interview requests:

Anshoo Chandra

Senior Information Officer

Ministry of Health and Medical Services

Tel: + 679 990 4055 / +679 949 0516 | Email:


Benedicte Galichet

Communications Officer

WHO Division of Pacific Technical Support

Tel: + 679 777 9733| Email:





The National Meningococcal (Men C) Immunisation Program, in its 4th week has to date immunised over 80,000 children aged 1-19 years across the Central Division and the Ra Sub-Division.

The Ministry’s Immunisation team has achieved 100 percent visitations to all schools in Ra-Subdivision and 89 percent visitations to schools in the Central Division.

The nation-wide mass immunisation campaign led by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  The Men-C immunisation programme aims to immunise all children and teenagers in Fiji aged between 1 to 19 years of age, free of cost, and is being delivered at schools, kindergartens, health centres and nursing stations across Fiji. The program began in the Central Division and Ra Subdivision on 14th May and will continue until Friday 29th June 2018.

The immunisation campaign will be rolled out in the Eastern, Northern and Western Divisions in the coming months. The shipment of the next round of 200,000 doses is to ensure that the 320,000 children between the ages of 1-19 years in Fiji will be immunised. Children and teenagers are most at-risk of contracting Men-C.  The vast majority of cases in 2018 have been under the age of 19.

The Ministry would like to remind the general public that Men.C Immunisation is safe, it is effective, and it saves lives. Mass immunisation of Fijian youths also helps to protect the broader community, as it has been shown to significantly prevent the ongoing transmission of the bacteria within a population.

Meanwhile, the Ministry would like to thank all the parents who have consented so far to have their children vaccinated.  The Ministry also acknowledges the teachers and the communities for their ongoing support for the National Meningococcal (Men C) Immunisation Program.

Parents who are yet to give consent for their children to be immunised are reminded that Meningococcal disease is a deadly disease and it’s in the best interest of the children that they should get immunised.

  • For children aged 1-5 years old, who do not attend school, parents and guardians can get them immunised by taking them to the nearest health centre or nursing station.
  • For children aged 5 -17 years old, and in school, immunisation teams are visiting schools and immunising children under parental consent. If any child misses out on their immunisation at school, parents are encouraged to take their child to the nearest health centre or nursing station.
  • For children aged 18-19 years old, undertaking tertiary level studies, stays home or is working, it is advised that you visit the nearest health centre or nursing station
  • Consent forms are provided to children under the age of 18 years, and immunisation will only be given to those children with a signed parental consent form.

Families are advised to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of this deadly disease and practice proper hygiene to prevent it from spreading. Men-C is treatable when caught in its early stages, but early detection is key to survival. If there is any sign suspect meningococcal disease, immediately go to a health facility to be assessed.

How to prevent the spread of diseases such as meningococcal disease:

Fijians are encouraged to practise proper hygiene by:

  • Covering their mouth and nose with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing and sneezing
  • Disposing of used tissues in the bin or washing your handkerchiefs daily with soap and water
  • After coughing or sneezing, wash your hands with soap and water
  • Don’t share eating utensils, cups/glasses/water bottles, drinks at social gathering (taki), cigarettes or kava bowls.

Further information about meningococcal disease:

Symptoms of meningococcal disease, especially for older children and adults include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck/backache

Other symptoms include nausea, eyes are sensitive to light, confusion, and in the final stages of the disease, a red/purple rash on the skin.

In babies and small children, parents and carers should stay alert for the following symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Unusual crying
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Vomiting
  • Floppy/drowsiness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Seizures or fits

In the final stages of the disease, a red/purple rash on the skin.

For further information about the disease, visit the Ministry’s website: for information on Immunisation roll out program visit