The Director of Nasese Private Hospital, Dr. Virgilio De Asa;
­­­The Minister for Health, Honourable Ifereimi Waqainabete;
Honourable Cabinet Ministers;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
The Acting Commissioner of Police, Mr. Rusiate Tudravu;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.

We are in the process of building the finest healthcare system in the Pacific, and to do that, we need to unite the efforts of the public and private sectors. It is clearly Government’s responsibility to make sure that all Fijians can get the care that they need. That means treatments ranging from medicines to surgery to physical therapy when they are ill or injured; checkups and vaccinations to keep them healthy; a clean environment with proper sanitation and safe drinking water; and doctors and hospitals that care for them.

But private medicine is paying a critical role in that system, and this new Nasese Private Hospital is a part of that. This is Fiji’s second private hospital, and it is a very welcome addition to our system.

Private hospitals work with the Ministry of Health and complement the medical services provided directly by the Ministry. They can free Ministry resources to serve more Fijians, particularly in times of emergencies. And they provide a high standard of efficiency and quality, for Fijians and citizens of our neighbouring countries, who are free to seek treatment at private hospitals here. That can make Fiji a referral centre for the Pacific.
The addition of a second private hospital can only help to elevate hospital care in the country for all Fijians.

This new hospital responds to a demand in Fiji for specialized and private care, and is currently the only hospital in Fiji or among our neighbours that is performing hip-and- knee replacements, surgeries that have become commonplace in many developed countries and offer an improved quality of life for people as they get older. It will also acquire the first private magnetic resonance imaging equipment in Fiji, which will be a tremendous aid in making accurate diagnoses and helping physicians make better decisions on treatment.
The MRI is in common use in developed countries, and Fijians deserve the advantages an MRI can deliver. These kinds of advances will drive better health care for all Fijians as our public and private hospitals share information and wisdom and work together, and as university students rotate through Nasese Private Hospital.

In that regard, I am very pleased to note that the Nasese Private Hospital’s Director, Dr. De Asa, served in the Colonial War Memorial Hospital when he first arrived in Fiji and taught at what was then the Fiji School of Medicine. So he is steeped in the medical experiences of this country and has an intimate knowledge of our system.
Dr. De Asa, I wish you all success as you begin this journey and bring another level of healthcare to the people of Fiji.

We gather here in the midst of the great global health challenge of our time: the COVID-19 pandemic. The advent of safe and viable vaccines has given the world a glimmer of hope that this darkness will soon give way to a new dawn. Our COVID-19 front-liners – who have served us so dutifully these past 12 months – are receiving their first vaccinations through this week. I plan to be vaccinated as soon as I become eligible.

As healthcare professionals, I urge you all to join this great national effort to protect our people from the peril of the coronavirus. Lives, livelihoods, and our place in the world’s recovery depend on it.

I have said many times that Fiji’s development is not just a job for Government. It is everyone’s job. We need the private sector and Fijians everywhere to bring their ideas and their initiative to the table, to keep finding solutions to problems, to keep improving the things that need to be better. Everyone has something to offer.

The need in health care is great. Medicine is advancing by leaps and bounds all over the world. We should be proud to have this new jewel in the crown of our hospital system.

To the doctors, nurses, technicians and staff of Nasese Private Hospital: You have my best wishes for success. I urge you to hold fast to the pioneering spirit you have now. I know you will do great things.

Vinaka Vakalevu – Thank you.

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