1 WELFARE MINISTRY INCREASES ASSISTANCE COVERAGE PROGRAM – The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation have achieved an increase in coverage and reach of its programs to disadvantaged families and individuals in Fiji.
2 FREE ARTIFICIAL CARDIAC PACEMAKER CHECKS – The Ministry of Health and The Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation is encouraging those with artificial cardiac pacemakers to take advantage of the free checks conducted by the visiting Cardiac Team from New Zealand.
3 SAVUSAVU TOWN DECLARED SMOKE FREE ZONE – Savusavu Town was officially declared a Tobacco Smoke Free Zone at ceremony held this morning to commemorate this new development.
1 WELFARE MINISTRY INCREASES ASSISTANCE COVERAGE PROGRAM
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation have achieved an increase in coverage and reach of its programs to disadvantaged families and individuals in Fiji.
This has been achieved through the reforms and streamlining of the social welfare programs, says the Minister Dr Jiko Luveni.
Minister Luveni said that through the Poverty Benefit Scheme, the Ministry is now assisting maximum of four members in a family.
“Before the reforms, the monthly assistance was only provided to one member of the family and this was not enough to cater for some families. So after the reform, changes were made to meet the needs of the families, whereby through Poverty Benefit Scheme, maximum of four members in a family are assisted through maximum allowance of $150 per month, this is inclusive of the $30 food voucher. This approach saw an increase in the number of people assisted under the Poverty Benefit Scheme, from 21,000 previously to near 60,000 people now being assisted” Dr Luveni said.
The second program, Care and Protection (C&P), she said is primarily designed to support the education and wellbeing of children up to 18 years, particularly those who come from a single parent family, have a parent in prison, or are cared by foster parents and guardians.
“The Care and Protection program currently has 1,996 beneficiaries of which a total of 5504 are children assisted under this program. Similarly the Ministry also provides monthly allowances of $100 per child for all the 168 children who are under state care and are looked after at nine residential homes in Fiji,” Minister Luveni said.
The nine institutions are as follows: Dilkusha Girls Home, St Christopher’s Home and Treasure Homes in Nadi that looks after the infants and Saint Meena’s Home in Nadi and we have Mahaffy Girls Home that looks after teenage girls, Boys Centre in Suva and Veilomani Boys Home in Ba and Homes of Hope (that looks after single mothers) and not forgetting the Lomani Au Home which is in Savusavu.
The two other major programs are Social Pension Scheme for persons who are 70 years and over who don’t have access to any form of superannuation funds qualify for the monthly pension.
“Currently, there are a total of 10,839 senior citizens assisted under this scheme and in a family if the husband is receiving the pension and the wife doesn’t have any form of superannuation funds or income then she qualifies to receive the monthly, pension as well. Through the cabinet approval, for next year, the monthly pension scheme has been increased to $50 per month.
“The Ministry is also assisting a total of 592 pregnant mothers in rural areas through the Expanded Food Voucher Programme. And the Ministry has also produced 43,219 cards for beneficiaries of the government’s Bus Fare concession, this include senior citizens and persons living with disabilities,” Dr Luveni explained.
Dr Luveni said the “Welfare to Workfare” Programme is also achieving positive results for able bodied welfare recipients in terms of earning income through managing their own businesses.
“The recipients are given skills training and start-up capital to venture into income generating and employment opportunities. The significance of this programme is that the recipients are able to earn double the amount in income as compared to the fixed amount they depended on as welfare recipients.
“A total of 148 recipients this year have started their income generating and livelihood projects and is progressing well and will ensure that the recipients become financially independent,” Minister Luveni said.
2 FREE ARTIFICIAL CARDIAC PACEMAKER CHECKS
The Ministry of Health and The Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation is encouraging those with artificial cardiac pacemakers to take advantage of the free checks conducted by the visiting Cardiac Team from New Zealand.
“The visiting cardiac team at the Lautoka Hospital is conducting annual checks on patients with artificial pacemakers,” said Craig Strong, Chairman of the Foundation.
He said anyone who has undergone this procedure but hasn’t had the annual review may do so with the team.
“Patients just need to contact Sister Shobhna on Ph: 6660 399 at the Lautoka Hospital for appointments,” Strong added.
The Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation is a registered Charitable Trust in New Zealand by a group of enterprising former Fiji citizens from varied backgrounds (in logistics, administration, accounting, law, corporate governance, and business) – formed with the objective of providing cardio surgical treatment unavailable for the needy and less-fortunate citizens of Fiji.
Over the past eight years the Foundation has extended its services to include open heart surgery, pacemaker implants and checks, coronary angiography and angioplasty and A-V fistula for kidney hemodialysis. A medical team of 60 arrived in Fiji from New Zealand on Wednesday for Mission number nine .
The medical team comprises of cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, anesthetists, intensivists, technicians, specialist theatre nurses, intensive care and ward nurses and physiotherapists.
The team is led by Fiji’s own son Dr. Parma Nand who is the only open-heart surgeon that Fiji has produced so far. Some of the other members of the team are former Fiji citizens. The rest are New Zealanders or other nationals working in New Zealand’s health system.
The entire team provides their time and their services for free. Their travel, accommodation and meals are provided by the Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation.
The Medical Mission is facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation and the Ministry of Health. This facilitates the provision of complex heart surgery for patients identified by the Ministry of Heath from around Fiji.
3 SAVUSAVU TOWN DECLARED SMOKE FREE ZONE
Savusavu Town was officially declared a Tobacco Smoke Free Zone at ceremony held this morning to commemorate this new development.
The Minister for Health Dr Neil Sharma officiated at today’s event which prohibits the use of tobacco in public spaces. He was joined at today’s event by the visiting World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Region Director, Dr Shin Young Soo, and Labasa/ Savusavu Special Administrator Vijay Chand officially declared it in Friday.
The WHO Regional Director Dr Shin congratulated the efforts and measures put in place by the Fijian government through the health ministry to control tobacco use. He added that engaging with town councils to implement these measures would ultimately save lives.
“All stakeholders must be encouraged to take part in such initiatives as it will be successful”, Dr Soo said.
The Health Minister said new initiatives implemented by Government are aimed at reducing smoking and to control tobacco use. He said that new measures like the Tobacco Smoke Free Zones are designed to discourage and prevent smoking habits.
Today’s event also provided an opportunity for Dr Soo to tour existing health facilities in Savusavu.