The Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Ifereimi Waqainabete;

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ministry of Health Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

We’re rounding off an incredible few weeks for the Fijian healthcare system.

Just yesterday, I was in Nasese opening the new Private Hospital. Last week, we launched the first ever National Surgical Obstetrics and Anaesthesia Plan for Fiji. The weekend prior, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Fiji. And at the end of last month, we opened the new Navosa Sub-Divisional Hospital.

In the face of one of the great medical challenges in history, the coronavirus pandemic, we can be proud to be making these historic strides to realise the right of health that our Fijian Constitution enshrines for every Fijian.

Not only have we kept Fiji safe from the terrible costs of COVID-19, we have continued to improve the reach and quality of the healthcare we afford the people. That journey continues today in Nadera as we proudly open the doors of the new Fiji National Kidney Centre.

We had planned to have this facility up-and- running last year, but that was pre-COVID. Travel restrictions kept a team of German technicians from reaching Fiji and getting these dialysis machines up-and-running. Rather than wait for the unknown end of the pandemic, we adapted. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services moved mountains to bring a technician from Samoa to Fiji – no easy task.

Here, he helped train our staff to assemble, calibrate and operate these kidney dialysis machines. Today, they are ready to be put to use treating patients.

There are major types of kidney dialysis treatments: Acute and chronic or long-term. Acute dialysis services are offered at the CWM Hospital and the Lautoka Hospital. The Government subsidizes those treatments for our citizens with an annual allocation of 100,000 Dollars.

This facility offers treatment for chronic kidney disease, which is an issue for far too many Fijians and the families that love and care for them.

These treatments are available in Fiji, but this is the first to offer specialized nephrology care. That means there is a specialist on-call at all times from the screening process, to the dialysis care, to the review of treatment plans. Having that expert eye available means patients at-risk of developing a serious case of kidney disease can be diagnosed early and receive treatments when they are proven to be most effective.

This Centre will provide dialysis treatment for approximately 40 patients a week with 180 dialysis sessions, and those services can be scaled up to meet demand.

Those treatments will also be directly subsidized by the Government to ensure they are available for all Fijians ­­– as must be the case for any society that calls itself compassionate.

But this is more than a treatment centre. It is the new beating heart of our holistic response to addressing the painful and deadly scourge of kidney disease in our society. Fijians suffer from an NCDs, like diabetes, at an unacceptable rate. As any of these doctors will tell you, that is one of the leading reasons why these dialysis treatments are in such high demand. We can’t only treat the symptoms and complications of this disease, we have to get to the root cause of what is indeed a Fijian health crisis.

This Centre will work to create awareness of the causes of kidney disease and how Fijians can decrease the likelihood of contracting the disease. And it will be a hub of kidney disease research that provides us with a clearer picture of how this disease is impacting Fiji and what more we can do to combat it; as researchers, as healthcare professionals and as ordinary citizens responsible for our own health and wellbeing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
March 11, exactly one week ago, was World Kidney Day. 2021 has been declared the year of “living well with kidney disease”. Today, we’re entering that year with the most significant advancement we’ve ever made to save lives from this disease.

Fathers, mothers, and grandparents, will have more time with those they love because these doors have opened today. They will live longer, and they will live well, and others who gain new knowledge about how to keep their kidneys healthy will not have to live with the disease at all.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

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