CONTINUED reliance on the State for health care will not lead to a healthier country, says permanent secretary for Provincial Development Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu.
People need to take responsibility for their health. Because the government provides free health services, our people are very irresponsible, Lt-Col Seruiratu said.
Addressing participants at the health symposium in Suva this week, Lt-Col Seruiratu said the introduction of hospital fees would lead to better health.
He said all government ministries and departments needed to mount an integrated approach to provide improved services to the people.
Its important that our approach is analytical and based on research, Lt-Col Seruiratu said.
We need to know why our people are leaving the rural areas and why poverty is increasing, he said.
Lt-Col Seruiratu said it was possible to reduce poverty and improve the health of rural communities if government departments worked together.
I can provide clean water, sanitation but we need to know which communities are being affected by disease.
The Ministry of Provincial Development and the Health Ministry must share information, use a common database if our programs are to be effective and have maximum impact on people.
Lt-Col Seruiratu said the key to breaking the cycle of poverty was the improvement of rural roads.
In our analysis of the Northern Division, we see that roads are repaired only during the cane season.
Farmers bring millions of dollars to the economy but they are neglected. This leads to social issues. When roads are bad, kids cant go to school and they leave the land, he said.
Lt-Col Seruiratu said the urban drift led to increased incidences of squatter settlements around towns and cities, putting additional strain on sanitation systems and leading to higher incidences of diseases like dengue and typhoid.
He recommended the use of information collected by rural nurses to provide a baseline on the health and peoples welfare.