1. HEALTH DATABASE TO STRENGTHEN HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY – INFORMATION is pivotal to decision-makers as it gives them strategic direction to improve in service delivery.
2. YELLOW RIBBON PROJECT LAUNCH GROWS INTEREST – The Yellow Ribbon Project was today launched at in Rakiraki by the Turaga Na Tui Navitilevu Ratu Meli Bolobolo.
3. MORE AWARENESS AND ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS THE RISKS OF PIRACY – Fiji has been swamped with fake trademark goods and pirated movies and music which is costing artists and manufactures and wholesalers a lot of money that is great concern to enforcers and various stakeholders.
4. A CONCERTED EFFORT NEEDED TO ADDRESS OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY – More than 2200 death cases have been reported to the Ministry of Labour in the past 15 years, out of which 274 were work related.
5. WORK ON WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT TO BE COMPLETED SOON – The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment will soon complete work on the Workmen’s Compensation Act, under the new proposed draft Workcare Decree (covering OHS and Workers Compensation).
1 HEALTH DATABASE TO STRENGTHEN HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY
INFORMATION is pivotal to decision-makers as it gives them strategic direction to improve in service delivery.
This is the rationale behind the Public Health Information System (PHIS) programme that was launched by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with partners Australian Aid (AusAid) and the Grant Management Unit.
Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said the system will provide information that will assist the Ministry in optimising existing programmes in the pursuit of improved service delivery.
“Information is strength because if you are informed, you know what to do. It gives us strategic direction and as a result we are able to fine-tune our decision-making,” he said.
The PHIS, which is funded through a $1.4m grant from AusAid, is a database that will contain information, mostly statistics, pertaining to immunisation, type of care given to pregnant mothers, diseases and many other important information.
Nurses at health stations in rural areas will fill in the data form manually and this will then be taken to the sub-divisional level where the information will be fed into the main database. This information will also be made available to public healthcare professionals in urban centres.
“We now have a system for monitoring pertinent indicators on maternal and child health, NCDs, nutrition, medicine stock outs, and outpatient conditions among other components of public health interest,” Dr Sharma said.
The PHIS programme puts Fiji ahead of other Pacific island country as it has taken concrete steps to fulfill World Health Organisations building blocks for health system.
AusAid representative, Ms Margaret Vuiyasawa, said the health systems such as PHIS are vital any health sector that require quality data to plan for and ensure that the workforce is fully funded and adequately equipped.
“Further to this, the WHO identifies health information as one of the six building blocks of a strong health system.”
2 YELLOW RIBBON PROJECT LAUNCH GROWS INTEREST
The Yellow Ribbon Project was today launched at in Rakiraki by the Turaga Na Tui Navitilevu Ratu Meli Bolobolo.
The project is the Fijian government’s effort to rehabilitate ex-offenders so they can be released back to their communities and can be counted as citizens who contribute towards to national development.
The launch started with a march which included students from the primary and secondary schools in Ra, supporters and stakeholders.
Ratu Meli reminded those present that the Project was designed to assist in moving the country forward and making sure that ex – offenders have another change to improve their lives and not return to their criminal ways again.
“We (Fijians) need to provide that platform of acceptance of our sons and daughters who are released from prison,” he said.
“They need to feel accepted and we need to provide that support as family members and friends which will result in the reduction in criminal activities in the country.”
The more than 500 crowd that gathered in the small busting town in the north western side of Viti Levu also witnessed a permanent monument that was also unveiled in the town which is a first for Fiji.
3 MORE AWARENESS AND ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS THE RISKS OF PIRACY
Fiji has been swamped with fake trademark goods and pirated movies and music which is costing artists and manufactures and wholesalers a lot of money that is great concern to enforcers and various stakeholders.
This was pointed out at the World Intellectual Property Day celebrations today with the theme “Protecting Creativity for the next generation.
Chief Guest and the First Secretary at the Political & Economic Section Chief at the United States Embassy Michael Via said stakeholders need to work together to fight piracy.
“We all know that copying music without paying royalty to those musicians that produce it is classified as theft,” Mr Via said.
“Not everyone is aware of the effects of piracy to music producers, artists and manufactures and this is one area that we need to strengthen awareness programs and strengthen laws to persecute offenders,” he said.
Mr Via pointed out that Fiji artists lose $25,000 per album from piracy and even more.
He adds all stakeholders need to work together to protect the rights of artists and government needs to strengthen piracy laws for the benefit of our budding artists.
Head of Copyright Enforcement Unit in the Attorney General’s Office, Terence Peter O’Neill, says that copyright in the country is not only centered on video and audio piracy, but on a large scale involving other goods.
Meanwhile, Consumer Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said consumers are lured to buy counterfeit products because of pricing of goods and services comparing the it too the original product.
“Consumers have the right to know all information on the products that they are buying and that is responsible of the wholesaler to advise them,” Mrs Kumar said.
4 A CONCERTED EFFORT NEEDED TO ADDRESS OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY
More than 2200 death cases have been reported to the Ministry of Labour in the past 15 years, out of which 274 were work related.
Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Mr Jone Usamate highlighted this at the World Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Day celebrations in Suva today.
Mr Usamate said that during the past 15 years, $6.5million compensation had been paid out.
“There have also been 13,465 injuries claimed, of which 3372 or 25.4 per cent were found to be compensable, and an amount of $4.7 million paid out in compensation,” Mr Usamate said.
“The only statistics that we have on occupational diseases arise out of our workman’s compensation cases that the Ministry deals with. From 2000 to 2011, there were only eight cases of occupational diseases that came out of the workmen’s compensation cases.
“However, these cases were recorded along the lines of the listing of occupational diseases used by the Ministry at that time,” Mr Usamate said.
The minister stated that Fiji adopted the ILO listing of occupational diseases in 2012 which now ensures a common listing of occupational diseases.
Mr Usamate added that Government has a vision of building a better Fiji for all where there are less workplace accidents and occupational diseases.
He said the Labour Ministry had been heavily engaged in training Fiji’s medical doctors on medical impairment assessments to ensure more uniformed assessments for workmen’s compensation.
“Doctors are receiving training on occupational diseases too. All of these developments will improve awareness of occupational diseases and help us develop better preventive measures.
“Heightened awareness may assist in our efforts to improve the statistics that we collect on the incidence of occupational diseases. Diagnosis of occupational diseases requires specialist medical knowledge that may not be so easily available in Fiji,” Mr Usamate said.
There are some areas that the Ministry of Labour continues to focus on to ensure OHS compliance and safety at workplaces.
“We will look also to strengthening our collaboration with the Ministry of Health on this matter and also to ensure that industrial practitioners are also trained. We look also to the assistance of our social partners for their active participation in this.
“The other area that needs to be further strengthened is the collation of data and information and the creation of knowledge on the incidents of occupational diseases. In order to manage occupational diseases, we must get a firmer grip on what the actual status is.
“My ministry will work on strengthening partnerships with the Ministry of Health so that we are not limited to data on Workmen’s Compensation. We will also strengthen the analysis of available data to identify trends with intent of learning more so as to make Fiji’s workplace safe productive and free from hazards that creates occupational diseases,” the minister highlighted.
Mr Usamate said occupational diseases and health and safety issues are economic matters too as these result in four per cent loss in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.
“The ILO estimates that work related accidents and diseases result in annual 4 per cent loss in global gross domestic product. That is a huge percentage. We do not have any estimates on what the figure for Fiji is, but it most probably might be close to the 4 per cent mentioned in that report.”
The Labour Ministry has committed to reducing workplace hazards through its 2013 Corporate Plan as part of its key deliverables towards Pillars 5, 8 and 11 of the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.
“This is to ensure that we achieve higher economic growth while ensuring sustainability, reducing poverty to a negligible level by 2015 whilst enhancing global integration and international relations,” Mr Usamate said.
As part of the World OHS Day celebration today, Mr Usamate laid wreaths to remember the workers who have passed on.
The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated on 28 April every year and the theme for this year’s celebration is ‘The Prevention of Occupational Diseases’.
WORK ON WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION ACT TO BE COMPLETED SOON
The Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment will soon complete work on the Workmen’s Compensation Act, under the new proposed draft Workcare Decree (covering OHS and Workers Compensation).
Minister for Labour, Mr Jone Usamate said this is part of the Labour Reforms, which had been ongoing.
“This will be a very significant step in Government’s efforts to alleviate poverty and allowing job creation and productivity as committed in the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress,” Mr Usamate said.
Mr Usamate said there still are some workers in Fiji who are subject to poor working conditions that often include pollutants, working underground or in confined spaces and the traditional hazards of industrial plants which may lead to occupational diseases.
“With all the rapid changes in development, there are so many new technologies, new materials, new chemicals becoming part of our daily workplaces.
“For many of these, the impact that they have on the lives of human beings are not fully understood yet. This makes the task of preventing occupational diseases even more difficult—but we must persevere,” Mr Usamate said.
The minister had undertaken Roadshows in the Northern and Western Divisions earlier this year where he met people with OHS and labour related complaints.
“Some of the stories that were relayed to me were shocking to say the least. I understand that many small businesses face the challenge of remaining viable by reducing costs, but this should not be at the expense of the lives of their workers.
“I appeal to employers to take a proactive step in reducing occupational diseases—to make work places safer. Workers also need to give their utmost to make their workplaces as productive as possible. We must have safe and productive workplaces.”
Mr Usamate added that inspection could be significant in the way forward, as long as the role of OHS Inspectors changes to one of education and prevention, as opposed to inspection and prosecution.
Mr Usamate said all stakeholders in the labour sector must work together for a better Fiji where the lives of our most important asset—the lives of workers are safeguarded.