Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma.
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.