1. MINISTER FOR HEALTH MEETS COUNTERPART IN INDIA – Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma met his counterpart in India Mr Gulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi on May 31 to discuss the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries.
2. LABOUR COMMERCIAL MEDIATION A SUCCESS – The Ministry of Labour has successfully resolved its first commercial dispute as part of its commercial mediation efforts. Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Jone Usamate has applauded the Labour Mediation Unit and has labeled its efforts as groundbreaking.
3. EMPLOYERS PROHIBITED FROM EMPLOYING CHILDREN IN HAZARDOUS OCCUPATIONS – Government has announced that under the ‘Hazardous Occupations Prohibited to Children Under 18 Years of Age Order 2013’ employers are prohibited to employ children in hazardous working environments.This extraordinary government gazette supplement number 18 (legal notice number 30) came into force on May 28.
4. FNCDP ACT 1994 UNDER REVIEW – The Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) is in the process of reviewing the FNCDP Act 1994 in order for Fiji to ratify the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
5. FIJI TO HOST REGIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH CONFERENCE – Fiji will play host to more than one hundred animal health experts from the region when it hosts the 15th Australasia/Oceania Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA) conference in September this year.
1. MINISTER FOR HEALTH MEETS COUNTERPART IN INDIA
Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma met his counterpart in India Mr Gulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi on May 31 to discuss the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries.
Dr Sharma, accompanied by Fiji’s High Commissioner to India Mr Yogesh Karan, expressed his appreciation to the Government of India for the support provided to Fiji over the years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Indian Government for the assistance given in the past, such as ambulances, boilers and medical equipment,” Dr Sharma said.
Dr Sharma updated Mr Azad and other high ranking officials from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare about the extension of work done to improve infrastructure at the CWM Hospital where additional operating theaters are being built.
“This extension and new technologies at the CWM hospital will allow doctors from Sahyadri hospital in India to undertake various types of heart surgeries associated with cardiovascular diseases and other complex surgeries in Fiji,” Dr Sharma said.
Dr Sharma also outlined Fiji’s interest in the work done by the Association for Social Health Advancement (ASHA) program which is a non-profit, non-political, non-governmental organization, that works to improve the socio-economic and health status of disadvantaged communities in India.
Dr Sharma further highlighted Fiji’s interest in traditional medicine, especially the work done by India’s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).
High Commissioner Mr Karan said AYUSH could assist Fiji since it offers a focused attention to the development of education & research in ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy systems.
Dr Sharma also requested the Government of India to allocate a quota system every year for Fiji to enable Fijian students to study medicine in top Indian medical universities on self-funding basis.
Commissioner Karan said a follow-up discussion would be held with Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health in India in the forthcoming weeks.
Further to the MOU with India, Dr Sharma discussed with his counterpart on the program for visit of Indian Medical Team for the second round of discussion in Fiji as part of the signed agreement.
Dr Sharma said a MOU has been signed between the Fiji National University and the Apollo Group last month for developments in Telemedicine in Fiji and discussions have also been conducted with Apollo on possible developments in Oncology and Urology in Fiji.
Mr Azad expressed his ministry’s willingness to assist Fiji and has assured Dr Sharma about discussions with India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Fiji’s requests.
2. LABOUR COMMERCIAL MEDIATION A SUCCESS
The Ministry of Labour has successfully resolved its first commercial dispute as part of its commercial mediation efforts.
Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Jone Usamate has applauded the Labour Mediation Unit and has labeled its efforts as groundbreaking.
Chief Mediator Mr. Vimlesh Maharaj conducted the mediation between Telecom Fiji Limited and Pacific Emerging Technologies Ltd, both subsidiaries of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings in major credit adjustments between the parties over certain services.
The mediation sessions were held over two days with very committed representatives from both sides. While managing director Mr Rod Galloway represented Pacific Emerging Technologies; Telecom Fiji Ltd was led by its chief financial officer, Mr Vinith Chand and his team of financial executives.
Minister Usamate said the mediation process adopted to resolve this dispute was based on an internationally accepted practice used in typical labour mediation disputes.
“This is a non court based alternative dispute resolution service that first identifies the principal interest and generates options which address those interests based on standard criteria, rather than haggling over the entrenched position of each party,” Minister Usamate said.
“Such an approach resolves dispute in most demanding and complex matters irrespective of technical, legal and financial implications that may overwhelm the issues.”
Minister Usamate said this technique’s resultant outcome is always a win win for both the parties, which restores fractured relationships that is vital for commercial viability.
“This case has been no exception,” Minister Usamate said.
The Minister also said this settlement had effectively disposed off long outstanding issues which had preoccupied these two commercial organizations in a bitter commercial dispute that had been the subject of intensive discussion since 2011.
Minister Usamate said such a settlement signalled the beginning of new era in resolution of conflicts, outside the realm of employment matters by the mediation unit, which has been consistently recording success rate that is higher than normally seen in the field.
“Such an achievement augers well for my Ministry’s Mediation Unit to diversify its mediation services to the wider stakeholders including Commercial, Industrial, Family and Consumer conflicts,” Minister Usamate said.
3. EMPLOYERS PROHIBITED FROM EMPLOYING CHILDREN IN HAZARDOUS OCCUPATIONS
Government has announced that under the ‘Hazardous Occupations Prohibited to Children Under 18 Years of Age Order 2013’ employers are prohibited to employ children in hazardous working environments.
This extraordinary government gazette supplement number 18 (legal notice number 30) came into force on May 28.
The gazette reveals that all employers should adhere to laws under Section 95(2) of the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 which prohibits any child to be employed in occupation or work which by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.
Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate said under this order children are prohibited to be employed in occupations of processing and preparation of drugs and chemical products involving exposure to dangerous chemicals.
“Under this order children are also prohibited to be employed in areas of mining, service sports and other related areas like farming fishing and logging,” Minister Usamate said.
“Other hazardous work includes but is not limited to bottle collecting and scrap metal collecting.”
Minister Usamate said an employer who, after being served with this Order, continues to employ a child in the prohibited occupation of workplace , commits an offence and is liable under provisions of the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007.
4. FNCDP ACT 1994 UNDER REVIEW
The Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) is in the process of reviewing the FNCDP Act 1994 in order for Fiji to ratify the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Fiji signed the UN Convention in June, 2010, in principal agreeing to comply with it and the next step now is the ratification of the Convention.
FNCDP executive director, Dr Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa said the FNCDP Act 1994 needed to be reviewed in order to provide a coordinating mechanism to look after disability services in Fiji.
“It is more of a historic achievement for us and we have to go to the next level from here. Hopefully, in the next two weeks, we would be able to come up with a draft legislation for disability,” Dr Yanuyanutawa said.
Dr Yanuyanutawa said during the consultation on the review of the Act, they would also look at some other legislations related to disability such as the Social Justice Act and the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007.
He added that this is the second consultation on the review of the Act with the third consultation scheduled to be held on the 27th of this month.
“When that last consultation will be completed, we will be able to put up a draft Decree for disability. Probably the draft decree will go through public consultation again and then from there, we would be able to come up with a legislation that has some teeth in it,” Dr Yanuyanutawa said.
“FNCDP Act has its own version of defining disability but all in all we are trying to put it in a more standardised way. And that definition will be captured in the draft legislation that will be prepared in the next two weeks.”
Dr Yanuyanutawa highlighted that the biggest advantage of the UN Convention is it gives a lot of power to the disabled population in Fiji.
“I know that it is not a typical Fijian mentality to be disabled. We were not really in that line of thinking but now we are coming into the spotlight and we are trying to make it fair and equal for persons with disability living in Fiji. If we can come up with a legislation that will be able to uphold their rights, i think we are providing more of a justice to them,” Dr Yanuyanutawa said.
“The new Act will have an immense impact on the lives of the people with disability as it will empower them to be able to exercise their own rights in a community which is not really aware of the importance of providing care for people with disability.”
“This legislation will give them an extra yard in trying to move forward with the challenges that we have, especially the attitudinal challenges. At the end of the day, we are trying to make them more visible in our midst,” Dr Yanuyanutawa stressed.
Meanwhile, Ms Nazhat Shameem, who is the consultant for the review of the FNCDP Act, said they are also working on defining ‘disability’ as one of the first steps of the review.
“We need to define who is a person with disability to ensure that the law targets exactly the sort of people that Fiji wants targeted,” Ms Shameem said.
The day-long consultation is attended by the 34 affiliates of the FNCDP, including 16 special school teachers, key government stakeholders such as the Ministry for Regional Development, Ministry of Health, the Social Welfare Ministry, Labour Ministry, Ministry of Justice and the National Planning Ministry as well as some civil society organisations.
5. FIJI TO HOST REGIONAL ANIMAL HEALTH CONFERENCE
Fiji will play host to more than one hundred animal health experts from the region when it hosts the 15th Australasia/Oceania Commonwealth Veterinary Association (CVA) conference in September this year.
Chairperson for the CVA conference organising committee, Dr Robin Yarrow said the conference will be attended by participants from countries in the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Timor Leste.
“This regional conference is under the ambit of the CVA and has been strongly supported by the government,” Dr Yarrow said.
With the theme, “Sustainable Animal Health and Production in Australasia/Oceania – the role of veterinary education, disease control, food safety and security and animal welfare,” the conference will address the state of the livestock sector in Fiji and the region.
Highlighting the issue of sustainability in the livestock sector, Dr Yarrow said that “sustainability is important in all activities that relate to our primary resources sector which includes livestock, cropping and marine products.”
“All these sectors must be sustainable and this issue will be one of the key focus areas for the conference,” Dr Yarrow said.
The qualified veterinarian said the conference is expected to be more practical and relevant with participants engaging in informal discussions and networking.
“We also have a few farmers who will be part of the conference and they will share their knowledge on farming activities and their role in livestock production,” Dr Yarrow said.
The 15th Australasia/Oceania CVA conference will include prominent speakers such as the CVA President, Dr Abdul Rahman and Global Animal Partnership Board of Directors member and Chief Executive Officer of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Mr Mike Baker <http://wspa.org.uk/>.
Organisers for this year’s conference include the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.