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'Hardly any progress'

Avinesh Gopal
Friday, April 25, 2014

THE Fiji Labour Party says hardly any progress has been made towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as far as the country's mortality rate is concerned.

The party's comment comes in response to a statement by Fiji's permanent representative to the UN, Peter Thomson, that Fiji has fared a bit better in trying to meet the MDGs.

Mr Thomson said while Fiji had done well compared to other Pacific islands, it was important to note there were mixed results all over the world.

FLP president Lavinia Padarath said according to the UN Human Development Index, Fiji was ranked 46 in 1995 and fell to 86 in 2008.

Ms Padarath said the latest data in 2012 indicated Fiji had slipped to 96 out of 187 countries, behind Tonga, which was ranked 95.

"Fiji's life expectancy had declined from 73 in 2000 to 69 in 2012, less than that for Tonga and Samoa at 73.

"But this was hardly indicative of the ground reality," she said.

"According to statistics quoted in a World Health Organization report (2011), Fiji people are dying young — shockingly only 16 per cent live beyond 50 and 8 per cent past 80.

"Maternal mortality rate stands at 26 per 100,000 births against the MDG target of 10.3. It was 27 in 1990.

"Fiji's infant mortality rate has remained static at 19 per 1000 live births between 2009 and 2013, three times over the MDG target of 5.6.

"The child mortality rate has in fact increased from 19.3 in 1995 to 22.4 per 1000 live births, more than double the MDG target of 9.3."

Ms Padarath claimed less than half of Fiji's population had access to safe drinking water, saying that 100 per cent of the population in Tonga and 82 per cent in Samoa had access to safe drinking water.

"Fiji lags behind even in terms of adequate sanitation facilities at 72 per cent of the population whereas it is a high of 96 per cent in Tonga and 100 per cent in Samoa."

She said Fiji had a high incidence of NCDs.

"Prevalence of hypertension is high at 19 per cent of the population while one-third of all deaths are attributable to heart related problems.

"In the 40-59 age group, this is almost half of all deaths.

"The incidence of diabetes in Fiji is reportedly the third highest in the world on a per capita basis."

Ms Padarath said the WHO report estimated that the adult mortality rate in Fiji was two to three times higher than that of Australia and New Zealand.

"With such appalling health statistics, how can Fiji describe itself as doing better?

"Are we now reduced to comparing ourselves with countries like Tuvalu and the Solomons which are ranked at the bottom of the HDI list?"





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