1.?GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TOUR MALAYSIA -?A 10-member delegation from the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, and the Ministry of Primary Industries are currently on a one-week tour to Malaysia to share good practices with the Malaysian Government.
2.?FUNDING SUPPORTS HOSPITAL COUNSELING SERVICE -?The Ministry of Health has formally signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the counseling organization Empower Pacific (formally known as Pacific Counseling & Social Services) to ensure expectant mothers and other hospital clients continue to receive quality counseling and social services.
3.?PRIORITISE EYE HEALTH CARE -?People need to visit eye clinics to avoid eye diseases which are common in Fiji. This was highlighted at the recent Pacific Regional Eye Conference Pacific Journey towards Universal Eye Health at Novotel in Lami.
4.?HEALTH SECTOR RECEIVES TIMELY DONATION FROM TURKISH GOVERNMENT-?The Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma received medical equipment donation from the Turkish Government yesterday.
5.?GOVERNMENT COMMITS TO NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN NASOMO -?The Fijian Government?s outreach program to rural and remote communities is opening new opportunities for employment and economic growth.
6.?NORTHERN SCHOOLS SET TO IMPROVE STANDARD -?The Ministry of Education is urging schools in the North to attain better results for the National Toppers program.
1.?GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TOUR MALAYSIA
A 10-member delegation from the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, and the Ministry of Primary Industries are currently on a one-week tour to Malaysia to share good practices with the Malaysian Government.
The delegation, led by Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management permanent secretary, Filipe Alifereti, includes Commissioner Western Joeli Cawaki, Commissioner Central, Laisenia Tuitubou, Commissioner Northern, Mr Alipate Bolalevu, Commissioner Eastern Netani Rika, Permanent Secretary for Fisheries & Forests Inoke Wainiqolo, Deputy Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Uraia Waibuta, Principal Fisheries Officers George Madden and Shalendra Singh.
They will also be joined by the Minister responsible for both the ministries, Mr Inia Seruiratu.
?The visit will enable us to learn from one of the advanced developing countries in the world, Malaysia,? Mr Alifereti said.
?Malaysia and Fiji have a lot of similarities and this is a good opportunity for Fiji to consider some of Malaysia?s policies in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and rural development.?
On Monday?(16 June), the team met with the Malaysia?s Ministry of Rural and Regional Development and later moved to the Prime Minister?s Department, where it met with the Implementation and Coordination Unit and the Economic Planning Unit.
?Our meetings so far have been an eye opener and we were able to see how Malaysia, which has been implementing various Transformation Policies including the Rural Transformation Policy for the last 40 years, has been implementing an integrated development framework covering all sectors,? Mr Alifereti said.
Malaysia hopes to achieve developed nation status by 2020 and the building blocks laid over the years are coming to fruition.
?Although Fiji has been looking at various models from developed nations such as Singapore, Malaysia provides another alternative because of its current status as a developing nation, which can spur Fiji?s incremental progress,? he added.
The delegation will meet with other agencies to gain more understanding of Malaysia?s policies before returning to Fiji. The Fiji High Commission in Malaysia has been accompanying the delegation to all its meetings.
2.?FUNDING SUPPORTS HOSPITAL COUNSELING SERVICE
The Ministry of Health has formally signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the counseling organization Empower Pacific (formally known as Pacific Counseling & Social Services) to ensure expectant mothers and other hospital clients continue to receive quality counseling and social services.
Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma said, ?Government is pleased to assist what has proven to be a very important service in the health and wellbeing of Fijians.?
?These counsellors identify issues regarding HIV, STIs and gender based violence. They also visit general hospital wards to assist any patient requiring counseling or social work support.
?The work they do is very important in keeping patients and families safe beyond the stay at the hospital.?
The Health Ministry is providing $250,000 to continue this service until the end of 2014. ?The agreement also ensures that all services will be of the highest standard possible.
In 2005, Empower Pacific initiated an Antenatal Program upon request from the Health Ministry, aimed at providing HIV/STI Counselling and Testing services to all expectant mothers going through the Antenatal clinics.
Patrick Morgam, Empower Pacific chief executive officer, said the funding would allow the service to operate free counseling and social work services.
?We are very grateful to the government for this funding. ?It ensures we can provide our services across the three major Divisional Hospitals in Fiji,? Mr Morgam said.
Last year, more than 12,000 clients attended Empower Pacific counseling centres at hospitals in Lautoka, Labasa and Suva. ?For the last couple of years, an average of 17, 000 to 20,000 individuals went through the Empower Pacific programs.
Situations such as pregnancy, serious illness or a long hospital stay can cause a lot of worries for a person and their family. Empower Pacific, Fiji?s largest counseling service, helps clients in finding the right approach and assistance to address these issues.
The goal is to maintain the health and wellbeing of the client and their family.
3.?PRIORITISE EYE HEALTH CARE
People need to visit eye clinics to avoid eye diseases which are common in Fiji.
This was highlighted at the recent Pacific Regional Eye Conference Pacific Journey towards Universal Eye Health at Novotel in Lami.
International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness Pacific coordinator Dr Ana Cama said clinical evidence indicated 80 per cent of blindness was mainly because of three conditions ? cataract (56 per cent), uncorrected refractive error (12 per cent) and diabetic retinopathy (12 per cent).
?Eye care is specialised field and we need more specialised nurses in this field especially in diabetic clinics to advise patients on how they control their sugar and maintain their eye sight diabetes need to ensure they get regular eye checkups,? Dr Cama said.
?The rapidly rising prevalence rate of diabetes and the high incidence of vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, especially among the working age group, are of great concern now,” she added.
Dr Cama highlighted that the Pacific needs more specialized people in the field of eye care to ensure that Pacific islanders do not succumb to such diseases which can be prevented.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma said Fiji has 22 eye care nurses in Fiji.
?Since 2006 a total of 69 nurses from the region have graduated with post graduate diploma in eye care, 22 are from Fiji,? Dr Sharma said.
?By the end of 2014 a total of 30 nurses and technicians from the seven Pacific Island countries would have post graduate certificate in diabetes health care,? Dr Sharma said.
Dr Sharma acknowledged the Pacific Eye Institute and other agencies for their contributions towards improving eye health care in the Pacific and is adamant that these forums will assist Pacific Islands Countries boost capacity in this area.
4.?HEALTH SECTOR RECEIVES TIMELY DONATION FROM TURKISH GOVERNMENT
The Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma received medical equipment donation from the Turkish Government yesterday.
Dr Sharma received the equipment from Fiji?s Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency Robin Nair.
The equipment include five Electro Cardio Gram (ECG) machines, five vital signs monitors and 12 scales worth $25,000.
This will be used in major hospitals for everyday patient care such as monitoring the heartbeat and pulse rate and checking blood pressure.
While receiving the equipment Dr Sharma said ?We are happy to have a new partner in addressing the issues in health care?.
?We are drafting a proposal on infrastructure and capacity building which will eventuate in August and we acknowledge the technological support from the Turkish Government,? he added.
Ambassador Nair said, ?we are happy to be associated with Fiji in the improvement of health care services in the country and have pledged for more support in the future?.
Health services in Fiji have been further boosted with this timely donation of basic and essential medical equipment?s from the Turkish Government.
5.?GOVERNMENT COMMITS TO NEW DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN NASOMO
The Fijian Government?s outreach program to rural and remote communities is opening new opportunities for employment and economic growth.
The Nasomo village in Vatukoula, Tavua has become the latest beneficiary of the Government?s program on women empowerment and poverty alleviation.
This development has come through the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni?s official visit to Nasomo village last Friday.
Her discussions with the community unfolded two new development projects that will benefit the ordinary Fijians.
Dr Luveni also presented a certificate of commitment to leaders in Namoso who have formed a gatekeepers committee to work closely with the Ministry and Fiji Police to take the villagers through 10 months of awareness programs focused on eliminating violence against women and children.
Speaking on behalf of Nasomo Women?s Club, president Mereoni Ranui said the timely assistance from the Government will provide economic boost for Nasomo women, most of whom are market vendors.
?The talanoa session with Dr Luveni has been very fruitful, it is through her visit here today that we have secured the government?s assistance to build a much needed facility for our women?s club. Currently there are 200 women in our club and we don?t have a permanent place to conduct our weekly income generating activities,? Mrs Ranui said.
?We have received the good news that the Ministry will provide us with the funding to build the Nasomo Women?s Centre-that will enable the unemployed women to participate in clubs activities and earn money for their families.
?Once opened, the Centre will provide a place for our members to organise activities like baking bread, cakes and pies and also producing and selling home-made items like peanut butter, jams and chutney. These items will be sold to the mine workers and also in the nearby villages, we already have the market, however we need the Centre to consolidate all the operating processes under one roof,? Mrs Ranui explained.
?We praise Dr Luveni for her humble and approachable personality and we are motivated by the message she has shared with us today-to always believe in ourselves and to be actively involved in the women?s activities,? she added.
Expressing similar sentiments, Nasomo village headman, Viliame Rokoraiba said that new incentives to uplift the standard of living in Nasomo has also been created by the Government.
?Nasomo has total of 250 households with a population of more than 1000. Farming is the major source of livelihood while some work at Vatukoula mines. This year through the Bainimarama government?s assistance we have formed the Nasomo Land Use Club through which we have also received farming assistance. Lately we have planted 5000 tomato plants which will bring us good revenue,? Mr Rokoraiba said.
?This Land Use Club is a great incentive for Nasomo farmers to utilize the 1062 acres of free hold land-the initiatives like free bus fare, free education and improvement in the road conditions around Nasomo has demonstrated the Bainimarama government?s commitment to deliver quality services for rural dwellers.
?We are also looking forward to fully participate in the violence free campaign, which I believe is also a worthwhile investment to accelerate development in Nasomo,? Mr Rokoraiba said.
6.?NORTHERN SCHOOLS SET TO IMPROVE STANDARD
The Ministry of Education is urging schools in the North to attain better results for the National Toppers program.
Ministry permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal in a recent leadership workshop attended by principals and head teachers from the Macuata and Bua province, encouraged them to achieve 20 per cent or more for the National Toppers Scheme.
Dr Lal also reminded these Northern schools ?to get its students to target 300 marks and above but also reminded them to focus on government priority areas.
The government priority areas in terms of Diplomas and Certificates include: 17 in Tourism, 47 in Engineering, 25 Mining and Milling, 171 Medicine & Health, 85 Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, 17 Technology, 17 Environment / Marine Science, 25 Land/Town Planning, 20 Commerce, 1 Social Sciences, ?128 Teacher Training, 47 Special Areas of High Priority.
The divisional education officer northern Satya Shandil said that the constant and consistent visits that they had and programs such as the Leaders workshop are some of the strategies which they had in place to keep them focused on their target.
?Last year we in the North had achieved 15% of the National Toppers program. This year we are working to ameliorate that and we had already visited our identified struggling schools and had provided all possible assistance,? Mr Shandil said.
The LANA (Literacy and Numeracy) program is equally important since there is a great need for our youngsters to grasp the basics for their future in education. Once the students in our primary schools had comprehended what Literacy and Numeracy is basically all about, I believe they will go a long way,? Mr Shandil said.