Novotel Hotel
Friday, 13th December,, 2013

  • The Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma
  • The Chairman and Board Members and Board of Visitors of CWM Hospital
  • Senior Executives of the Ministry of Health
  • Members of the Business Community
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed for me a great honour to have been invited by the Chairman and the Board of Visitors of the CWM Hospital to officiate at this gala dinner.

The purpose of this occasion is not only to raise funds towards constructing a waiting area for discharged patients, but it is also one of the many events organized to mark the double sapphire anniversary celebration of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

I would now like to take some time to briefly recount the interesting history of the CWM Hospital, which was built some nine decades ago.

In his introductory speech at the opening ceremony on 2nd December, 1923, Mr R Crompton explained that in April 1919, the then Governor of Fiji, Sir Cecil Rodwell published in the papers, quote: “an intimation that possibly the people of this colony would like to have a war memorial in common with the other parts of the British empire and that stg10,000 would be the limit of the money which it would be possible to raise. His Excellency offered on behalf of government stg3500 if the colony could supply the balance of the money.

The idea was to erect a building in Suva which could be used as a club house especially by returned soldiers and by members of the Defence Force.” Unquote.

MrCrompton goes on to say, quote: “on October 19th, there appeared in the papers a letter from Mr Henry Marks suggesting that instead of this building we are proposingto erect, we should erect instead acentral hospital in Suva, and that we should also erect hospitals in all the populous districts of this colony.He not only made the suggestion but backed that suggestion up, by saying that if we would adopt his view, he would himself subscribe stg2500 towards it and his company would give another stg2500.

A hospital scheme was started.

The old idea was given up and the money which was subscribed to the old idea was transferred (with the consent of the subscribers) towards a fund to build a memorial hospital. Subscriptions of stg250 and over were received.”

“TheColonial Sugar Refining Company gave stg5000. Lady Rodwell set up a “company market fair”, which was held at Government House ground. It was successful and raised the sum of stg2140.”

“TheEnglish Red Cross gave a subscription of stg1500.

”Then we had what is becoming chronic in this colony – that very excellent individual “Mr Anonymous who presented stg1000, Morris Hedstrom Ltd gave-stg500, Brown and Joske-stg250, Wishaftand Sons gave-stg250. The public was promised that government would subscribe pound for pound of the money raised. Altogether stg19, 625/7/10 was raised - with interest bearing this reached stg20,000. With further donations the total reached was stg24,151.

Government carried out its promise of pound for pound and the fund eventually reached stg50000. The architect was the Commissioner for Works and his staff, MrWhanof Whan Construction was the contractor.

MrCrompton then said, quote: “i do not wish to mention to you only the material side of this matter – the raising of the funds and so on because i think we should goa little further and ask, what does the memorial mean? what does it stand for today?” “and what will it stand for in the future?

Today, it stands as a solemn tribute for the memory of the sons of Fiji who lost their lives in the great war. They were citizens of whom we are all proud and they gave what is the noblest of all human gifts by self-sacrifice they lost their lives.”

“It is to their memory that this magnificent building is erected and I trust it will serve a secondary purpose. I hope that the relatives of those that died when they look back upon this building they will realize that it is erected to the memory of those they loved and I sincerely hope that they will find consolation when they look at this memorial hospital.

It is also, a symbol of our appreciation of the efforts of all people who helped during the great war – those who fought and those who rendered assistance in any and every way. I should not be doing my duty if I did not remind you that this hospital is a symbol, as far as the women are concerned, of our respect of the bravery of women of that period.

We shall never forget what happened during the great war – we shall not forget the action that these women took and this building is a symbol of our respect.” Unquote.

Quote: “Now the original hospital was erected in 1881 largely from old buildings brought over from Levuka, the first capital.”

There were then three nurses of whom two were trained and one untrained, and three paid servants – all the rest of the services were rendered by long-sentence prisoners. There were no beds except for Europeans.” Unquote.

When the new cwm hospital opened its doors on 2nd of December, 1923 to serve the health needs of the people in Fiji, it had 108 beds with 27 staff including two (2) doctors. The Chief Medical Officer was Dr Montague.

In those early days and in response to the growing demand for its services not only in Fiji, but also in the neighbouring countries, CWM Hospital grew rapidly in terms of equipment, nurse training, staff and physical infrastructure.

Today, as we celebrate the 90th anniversary of its existence, it has four hundred and eighty-six (486) beds with more than 1200 staff members.Added infrastructure was extended both on brown street and extension street.

Cognizant of the fact that health services are still in short supply throughoutthe country, cwm hospital regularly sends its medical personnelto schools, district and divisional hospitals, rural clinics, private hospitals and, indeed, anywhere the needs have been identified.

Ladies and gentlemen,

One of the prominent features of CWM that places the hospital among the best health institutions in the region - if not ahead of its counterparts - is its specialized patient care services such as interventional cardiology, urology, neurosurgery, oncology for adults and children, and advanced orthopaedic surgery to patients. The availability of well-trained Fijian health professionals and the acquisition of state of the art medical equipment combined with strategic partnership with health providers abroad have ensured that a high standard of services is delivered to the members of the public when they come to CWM hospital.

I would like to, therefore, pay tribute to our pioneers in health who with selfless dedication and exemplary commitment have paved the way for the current and future generations of health workers. For those who are still with us and the many more who have passed on, we salute you all.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we mark the 90th anniversary of CWM hospital, one is pleasantly aware that this hospital had always opened its doors to students from the neighbouring countries. It was the training hospital for firstly the Central Medical School, the Central Nursing School, the Fiji School of Medicine, the Fiji School of Nursing, and now as the Fiji National University’s College of Medical, Nursing and Health Sciences.

CWM has contributed immensely to the professional and personnel development of many health professionals in Fiji and the region. It is a fact that many health professionals who had gone through CWM Hospital have gone on to become prominent health practitioners and public administrators in Fiji in the region and in the international arena.

Ladies and gentlemen, since 2006, the Government and the Ministry of Health have renewed its focus and interest in the delivery of quality health services in the public hospitals around Fiji. At CWM Hospital, this has come in the form of the acquisition of sophisticated medical equipment such as the CT Scan, MRI Scan, EEG Machine and soon the commissioning of the first ever Lithotripter Machine.

Ladies and gentlemen, all these state of the art machines are procured to improve the investigation and treatment of patients.

In 2013, government approved the allocation of $9.9 million for the refurbishment of the Operation Theatres and Intensive Care unit at CWM Hospital.
For 2014, government has allocated more than $8 million for funding infrastructure development at CWM Hospital which includes the construction of a more than 200 plus bed new maternity hospital. These are clear indications of government’s commitment to the health and the well-being of the people of Fiji.

Ladies and gentlemen, it would be remiss of me not to highlight and acknowledge the contribution of the community to the development of CWM Hospital. Since the first fundraising efforts in 1919 to build the new memorial hospital, individuals, social groups, civil societies and donor agencies have over the years willingly supported and assisted the cwm hospital with donations of millions of dollars of medical equipment, consumables and linen supplies.

The business organizations have stepped in time and time again to renovate and upgrade a ward, to paint a room or corridor, and to beautify the hospital surroundings.

The community both local and those from abroad have indeed shaped cwm hospital to what it is today. The sentiments that were expressed during the opening ceremony on 2ndDecember, 1923 still rings true today.

I am told that the waiting area which this gala dinner proceed will help to finance, will be in the form of a lounge which will be used by patients to rest whilst waiting to be picked up by their loved ones.

I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all men and women of goodwill who are here tonight, as well as those who are not here, to contribute in any way possible to the future development of cwm hospital.

Ladies and gentlemen

During tonight’s gala dinner let us all rejoice at the ninety (90) years of caring that the CWM Hospital had given to multitudes of people. At the same time, let us think of the future and create a vision of where we want the hospital to be in the years to come.

As Sir Cecil Rodwell said at the opening of the hospital, quote: “a word about which the purpose of this memorial is dedicated. It is dedicated to those sons of Fiji who:
“laid the world away; poured out the red sweet wine of youth, gave up the years to be of work and joy.”

Let us view it as a beacon of hope.

“May it be not only a memorial to the fallen but an inspiration to the living?” Unquote.

Of the 680 men of the Fiji contingent, 120 gave their lives while of the 108 men of the FijiLabourcontingent, eleven lost their lives.

And in conclusion, your government will always count on the same unwavering support you have all shown tonight to be part of the discharged patients waiting area project of your hospital.

God bless you all and God bless Fiji.

Thank you, vinakavakalevu, sukria, bahootdhanyavaad.