Every second or third day Health Minister Jone Usamate is in the news on TV commenting on some health issue here or there. Neatly dressed, jacket and all, shoulders sagging under the weight of the expensive salusalu proffered by the organisers of the seminar/conference he has just finished addressing, the Minister rattles on about the strategies being employed to improve Fiji’s steadily deteriorating health services.
Accompanying him on these stints at times are equally well dressed and salusalu clad officials of the UNDP or WHO who wax eloquent about the progress being made in the delivery of health services via programmes funded by their organisations.
Despite all this, our health woes continue to worsen:
• chronic shortage of doctors
• unavailability of drugs in our hospitals/health centres,
including the so-called free medicine promised at the time
• broken down x-ray machines and scanners
• shortage of laboratory reagents
• disgusting condition of beddings
• torn fly/mosquito screens in hospital wards
• badly neglected building maintenance etc, etc
Look at these snapshots of the Nadi Health Centre and its surrounds, including some badly neglected government quarters and judge for yourselves.
Notice the general air of neglect and disrepair – rotting timber, peeling paint, broken windows, overgrown grass and filth…
People working in the Health Centre and living in the quarters are medical personnel. If this is the condition in which they live – how can they possibly look after the health of the nation or raise awareness about cleanliness and standards of hygiene and sanitation?
The Minister would do well to get these basics right before engaging in high sounding rhetoric about his holistic approach to solving Fiji’s chronic health problems.