Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received a courtesy call from the newly appointed World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the South Pacific, Dr. Mark Jacobs this morning.
In congratulating Dr. Jacobs on his new role, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the Fijian Government’s commitment to increasing engagement with the WHO.
The Prime Minister acknowledged, the valued contribution of the WHO towards Fiji’s strategic priorities in alignment with our global commitments of providing Universal Health Coverage and Resilience to Climate change, achieving Global and Regional Immunisation Goals, and ensuring that Fiji is able to detect, assess and respond to common epidemic-prone diseases, amongst other key priorities.
He extended his appreciation to the WHO and to its Pacific Office for its timely support and assistance in Fiji’s national response in times of natural disasters and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The life- saving COVID-19 vaccines secured through the WHO’s COVAX Facility granted Fiji, the first country in the Pacific, accessibility.
The Prime Minister was pleased to share that Fiji has so far achieved a vaccination status of 90 percent coverage of our total targeted population and has put in place progressive steps to reopen Fiji’s borders to the world next month, enabling the revival of employment, trade, tourism and ultimately rebuilding the Fijian economy. A feat only possible with the commitment and solidarity of our multilateral development partners such as the WHO.
With the current challenges faced globally, partnerships are more critical now, responding to the multi-dimensional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and respond to other global challenges.
He thanked the WHO for applying a “Small Island Developing States lens” across programmes of work in recognition of the vulnerability of SIDS, facing unprecedented health challenges, compounded by the impact of climate change, and the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic and existing chronic health issues.
In June, the WHO convened the first SIDs Summit for Health, which brought SIDs leaders together to discuss the impact of the pandemic, on fragile and limited resources, with leaders acknowledging the need for comprehensive partnership and teamwork to ensure that SIDs are not left behind in our recovery.
The Prime Minister, extended the Fijian Government’s best wishes to Dr. Jacobs as he assumes his new role and assured the WHO Representative of Fiji’s commitment to enhance collaboration for a resilient global recovery.
Dr. Jacobs reaffirmed the WHO’s commitment to further support the development of a robust health care system and advancement of health-related development goals, through stronger cooperation at all levels.
Prior to his appointment as the WHO Representative, Dr. Mark Jacobs has held a series of senior public health leadership roles.
Dr. Jacobs was previously the WHO Representative to Lao People’s Democratic Republic from November 2018 to August 2021. He was Acting Director of Programme Management for WHO in the Western Pacific Region from May to October 2018.  He was also previously the Director of Communicable Diseases in the Region for 5 years.