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Honourable Minister for Health and Medical Services;
Na Turaga Talatala;
Na Tui Namataku, Tui Nasikawa, Tui Magodro, Tui Noikoro, Tui Davutikia,Tui Nasaunivalu, kei na Taukei Nasova.
Permanent Secretaries;
Commissioner Western Division;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka, and a very good afternoon to you all.

I’m very pleased to be here in Keiyasi today, as we officially break ground for the new Navosa Sub-Divisional Hospital.

This hospital will replace the current Keiyasi Health Centre, dramatically upgrading the health services offered to the entire Nadroga-Navosa Province, an expansive area of land with dozens of deep rural villages and settlements that will utilise this new facility upon its opening. In the past, the nearly 10,000 Fijians residing throughout this sub-division have needed to travel to Sigatoka, or Nadi, or even as far as Ba to seek specialised treatments, x-rays and ultrasounds, maternity services, pharmacy services, and laboratory testing. I am proud to say that, upon the completion of this hospital, that will no longer be the reality for healthcare. All of these services will be offered right here in Keiyasi.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this ground-breaking isn’t just a one-off win for Fiji’s maritime and deep rural communities.

Fiji’s 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plans––our NDPs––which were unveiled at COP23 in Bonn last year, set out my Government’s framework for expanding and upgrading our health facilities all across Fiji, putting quality medical care closer and more easily accessible to more Fijians than ever before. All over Fiji, we have set up new healthcare facilities, with a particular emphasis on delivering more and better services to our fellow Fijians in remote maritime and deep-rural communities like this one.

In the next five years, even more investment will be made to upgrade and expand our existing divisional hospitals, making room for more beds, providing more services, and creating an overall better experience for those seeking treatment.

My Government is committed to this goal, and the Navosa Sub-divisional Hospital ground-breaking here today is proof that these NDPs are more than words on paper or empty promises—they are testament to the fact that my Government puts plans to action. This forward-thinking is a continuation of the immense progress that we as a nation have already achieved together. But we are not sitting on our laurels.

We already have further plans in place to improve health centres and medical services in our Western division, including upgrading the Votualevu Health Centre, the Sabeto Health Centre, and the Korovuto Health Centre. I am also proud of my Government’s recently-announced plans to bring Fijian health system to new heights with a Public Private Partnership, or PPP, which will provide new opportunities for the medical staff and increased and better services for the patients at our Ba and Lautoka Hospitals, and overall Western Division.

In fact, it is estimated that this innovative partnership will bring new and higher-quality medical services to around 380,000 Fijians, with certain treatments and procedures to be offered in Fiji for the first time ever. And I am even prouder to say that all of this progress, this unprecedented access here at home, will come at no additional cost to the patient.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as your Prime Minister, I am committed to bringing each and every Fijian into the fold. Whether this is through expanded access to healthcare, to clean water, to infrastructure, to education, to Walesi Free-to-Air television, or to the many other benefits we are spreading far and wide in Fiji every day, you deserve to share the progress that Fiji is experiencing as a whole as much as anyone else, and I am personally committed to sharing the unprecedented prosperity that Fiji is experiencing with each and every one of you.

My Government has proven time and again that we have the experience, the expertise, and the dedication to improving the lives of ordinary Fijians, that will continue to get things done. Unlike previous Governments, and unlike the current opposition, my Government is about action.

Also, as not only your Prime Minister, but as a fellow Fijian, I want to use this hospital ground-breaking as a fitting opportunity to stress the importance of taking care of yourself. Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, we can continue to build new hospitals, health centres, and nursing stations throughout Fiji, but unless you look out for your own health and that of your family and neighbours, all of this progress, all of these new buildings and services, would be for nothing.

Over the past decade, Fiji has made serious progress in improving the health of our citizens; from increasing life expectancy to improving health outcomes and reducing disease.
But even with this progress, there are still risks and realities that we face every day, and we must work together to tackle these issues head-on.

In particular, I want to personally stress the current importance of all Fijians checking themselves for signs of meningococcal disease, as it was announced just yesterday that Fiji is experiencing a new outbreak that has a high fatality rate. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has already set up a taskforce to help strengthen early detection and treatment, but above all, we need the buy-in of our citizens. The disease is life-threatening, but it can be treated if detected early, and prevented altogether by avoiding coming into contact with saliva of an affected person.

Please, my fellow Fijians, take careful steps to avoid coming into contact with the disease. Wash your hands and handkerchiefs regularly, especially after you cough or sneeze.
If you share saliva with an infected person, whether by kissing a loved one or passing along a kava bowl, you are putting yourself at risk. As someone who enjoys a cup of grog as much as anyone, I just ask that you are cautious—with your awareness and proactive steps, you are helping us contain this disease.

You should also be aware of the symptoms of meningococcal disease; by being alert and aware of the symptoms, you can stop it early with the proper antibiotic medication. It is found most often in babies and teenagers and young adults, but anyone can get the disease. For older children and adults, signs include nausea, your eyes being sensitive to light, confusion, and rash. For babies, symptoms vary much more, but they can include unusual behaviour, high fever, and red or purple spots. Be alert; by looking out for these warning signs and visiting your local health facility as soon as possible, lives will be saved.

I say these things because I genuinely care about each and every one of you, the Fijian people. You are what drive me every day, and you are what gives me the energy to travel the globe to meet with Leaders, finding new and creative ways to promote Fiji and seek out investment and innovations that will improve the lives of all Fijians. And you are the reason that here at home among you all—the place where I am most comfortable. I am building the strongest possible foundation so that our children and grand-children to inherit a new Fiji, a prosperous Fiji, and a united Fiji–– a Fiji for all Fijians.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is more than a symbolic gesture–– today, we mark the beginning of a new era in healthcare for the many thousands of Fijians who will be serviced by this new healthcare facility. It is, therefore, with great pride that I will now break ground on the Navosa Subdivisional Hospital.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications