The Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Ifereimi Waqainabete;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corp;
Permanent Secretary and Senior Officials of Ministry of Health & Medical Services;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good afternoon to you all.
We are here today to take one more important step in one of the most important things a government can do for its people—provide the best health care possible.
One way we do that is to look carefully at the needs of people in our rural areas. We need to know what their challenges are in getting treatment when they need it. We need to study carefully the ways to treat the most common medical situations close to home.
We know that people with the most serious and complicated conditions will have to travel to a larger hospital, in Suva, Lautoka, or Labasa.
But we also know that if we can treat illness, disease and injury close to home and quickly, we can prevent those conditions from becoming more serious.
Timing is critical in medicine, and if we can treat people early, then we have gone a long way to providing the best health care we can.
This new hospital was once a primary care facility. Its medical services were good, but quite limited. By expanding this hospital into a Sub-divisional Hospital, we can perform surgeries in a modern operating theatre, with proper post-operative care and inpatient services.
That means that patients who need constant medical attention will have a bed in a sanitary and well-staffed hospital, with doctors and nurses on site.
But what is just as important is that this hospital includes a guest house for families, so they can stay with their loved ones instead of having to bear the expense of a hotel or travel back and forth to their villages. It also includes housing for staff, so that a sufficient number of doctors and nurses can be here on site, 24 hours a day.
As I said, we know that this hospital will not be able to treat some of the most serious, acute or complicated cases.
But the people of this area can be assured that if they need to be treated quickly at a larger hospital, they can be transported by helicopter from the medevac heliport that was built into the design.
We see the hospitals and health centers as impressive building complexes, but I encourage you all to look at all of our hospitals as an integrated network that works together for every patient. The doctors can consult with doctors from other hospitals and can transfer a patient to the hospital that is best equipped to treat them. The best way to give the people the best health care possible is to create what is really one large hospital network across the country.
Fortunately, we have the technology and the transport to make that a reality.
The strides made by our healthcare system were most apparent last year when Fiji successfully contained our outbreak of the coronavirus. It has now been more than 300 days since our last case of the virus outside of a border quarantine facility – a record no other nation can claim. Despite the doubts some held, Fiji rose to the challenge of this global pandemic and stopped it from wreaking havoc on our people. More than two million lives have been lost to this pandemic overseas; a loss of life that is hard for anyone to comprehend.
But we are safe, and we have our healthcare workers and healthcare system to thank for that incredible achievement.
As we strive to secure our place in the global economic recovery from this pandemic and immunize our people from this plague; the well-being of every Fijian will continue to sit at the heart of every decision we make.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This new hospital will serve 26 villages, 58 settlements, 11 kindergartens, and 13 primary and two secondary schools. And the people from Bukuya Medical Area and the upper Naqalimare Nursing District can also choose to come here for care.
This hospital will make a huge difference for the people in this area. And it will surely save lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the most important objectives of my Government has been to eliminate the gap that has existed for so long between the living standards of our rural and urban communities. We have worked hard to create greater opportunities for rural residents in education, and to provide greater access to clean water and reliable power, and also to ensure that not one Fijian will ever suffer because they cannot get the medical care they need when they need it. That day has passed.
I am proud to be here with you today, and I wish the people of Navosa good health and happiness.
And now, it is my honor to dedicate this new Navosa Sub-regional Hospital to you, the people of Navosa, and to all the people of Fiji.