Government has heard the plight of the people.Fijians can now expect an improved service delivery in the country’s public health care system with 2015 budgetary allocation of $269.7 million as announced by the Minister of Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
The Consumer Council of Fiji applauds the Government for keeping its promise to implement the much needed reforms in the health sector.
The announcement of an increase of $47.3 million (21% more than what was provided in 2014)will see the recruitment of 150 new doctors, 200 nurses and 91 other health workers.
This would mean that more people can have access to and be served better at hospitals, health centers and nursing stations.
The increased manpower will no doubt build confidence in the state health care system which has received a lot of criticism from the public.The Council also commends the Government’s free medicine initiative which will benefit consumers earning less than $20,000, particularly those medicines that are under price control and are prescribed by a doctor.
Though this scheme does not cover all consumers, it will, however, make health care affordable for the low-income earners, most of who are struggling with the increasing cost of living.Meanwhile, the Council commends the Government for imposing a 5cents per litre excise duty on sugar-sweetened drinks which will help national efforts in reducing non-communicable diseases.
The Council had in its 2015 budget submission proposed for an excise tax based on sugar content for locally-produced soft drinks as sugar sweetened beverages have been linked to increased risk of being overweight and the biggest contributor to diabetes.
This measure will make sugar-sweetened beverages more expensive and furthermore, it will provide an incentive to manufacturers to reformulate their products towards lower sugar content.
Ms. Premila Kumar