Party calls for reform of boarding schools

THE Unity Fiji Party says there is a need to reform the boarding school system for strict adherence to public health requirements.

The party said this was critical to adequately address the outbreak of meningococcal, especially in boarding schools.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services announced a meningococcal outbreak in the country on March 20.

On March 29, the ministry confirmed that 38 cases of meningococcal had been recorded, of which six were from Navesau Adventist High School in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

Party president Adi Sivia Qoro said there was a need for dissemination of key messages to educate communities on what they must do as precautionary measures.

“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services needs to work with the Ministry of Education in educating students, particularly in boarding schools and tertiary institutions,” she said.

“In the long-term there is a need to urgently develop and implement a meningococcal disease risk communication plan and for public dissemination.

“In addition, while the ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Education and World Health Organization to address the recent outbreak in a boarding school in the Eastern health division and in other parts of Fiji, the fact that testing of suspected case samples are still conducted at the microbiological diagnostic unit public health laboratory at University of Melbourne, invariably confirms the need for clinical and public health laboratories which are necessary to support the prevention, surveillance and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases,” she added.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Rosy Akbar told this newspaper last week that teams were on the ground visiting boarding schools.

“We will be monitoring other boarding schools to see that they maintain best hygiene practices,” Ms Akbar said.