When health issues matter

The recent meningococcal disease outbreak, and dengue fever for starters, have inched out the harsh reality that we are not immune to such deadly sicknesses.

They have shifted attention firmly onto our health system, how prepared we are, our responses and reaction time in the case of outbreaks.

In our continuing special columns for political parties, we ask them about their views of the health sector.

It seems addressing the health needs of Fijians could be a critical issue for the government after the 2018 polls.

Five out of the six political parties that are looking forward to this year’s polls have come out with mixed reactions on the status of the country’s health sector.

Today they talk about their views, their plans and strategies if they form the government.

They talk about policy issues and suggest strategies dedicated to the health sector.

They raise issues they feel are critically important, and talk about ways to address them.

As usual, we sent the ruling FijiFirst party the same questions on Wednesday, however, when this edition went to press last night, there was still no response.

Unity Fiji party president Adi Sivia Qoro believes our health system needs reforms.

Adi Sivia said a weak health system was an obstacle to achieving the maximum health benefit possible from available resources.

National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad believes problems in the public health care and medical services were well documented.

He picked on what he claims was a lack of doctors and nurses as an issue and cited a lack of basic amenities, shortage of beds forcing patients to lie in corridors, overworked doctors and nurses and other health personnel, shortage of basic medicine, expired medicine, long waiting time for patients to see a doctor and lack of diagnostic equipment as other major concerns.

Fiji Labour Party parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh insists that it was widely acknowledged that our health care facilities were “grossly inadequate and under-equipped”.

Mr Ravindra-Singh said the health of some Fijians was also a critical issue.

Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka believes Fiji’s health services needed a massive overhaul starting from basic health services at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Fiji United Freedom Party leader Jagath Karunaratne believes a medical health insurance scheme for the country would solve some critical health issues.

Clearly health is an issue that is very close to our hearts.

The different views are interesting. Different people, obviously, will see things differently when it comes to issues of importance to Fijians.

With this series, we hope to stimulate discussion with the views of the parties, and aid in creating awareness of what each has to offer in the lead up to the elections this year.