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Fiji’s efforts in healthcare should address violence

SUVA / GENEVA (5 December 2019) – Fiji has good opportunities and strong political will to realise the right to health – but achieving this goal will depend as much on addressing violence, discrimination and inequalities as on investment in its healthcare system, a UN expert said after a visit to the country.

“Fiji has invested in all the main elements of healthcare, including primary and specialised care. It has modernised outpatient and hospital care, invested in infrastructure and increased salaries for medical doctors,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, presenting a preliminary statement at the end of his eight-day mission.

“I welcome Fiji’s strong political will to ensure that people can realise their right to health, and I am pleased that it has very good opportunities to do so.

“Of course it is important to continue investing in a sustainable health care system with a focus on primary care, but it is equally essential to seriously address the major determinants of health, such as violence, discrimination and inequalities that threaten the effective realisation of people’s right to health.

“The key to success is critical analysis, recognising the current gaps and identifying the measures needed to close those gaps.”

The Special Rapporteur said more attention should be paid to violence against women and children, including implementing existing laws.

“Fiji should make full use of its existing legislation and policies to combat violence against women and other vulnerable groups,” he said. “This needs measures that are adequately supported with resources and that are in line with a human rights-based approach and based on scientific evidence.”

Puras also highlighted the mental health of the Fijian population as an emerging priority.

“Psychosocial interventions for children and adults with mental health conditions should be available at the community level, and all healthcare workers should be empowered to be involved in the provision of mental health support and care, in the same way as they manage physical health conditions,” said the expert.

“Community-based rehabilitation services should be developed to support people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

The Special Rapporteur commended the Government of Fiji for its good management of the recent measles outbreaks.

During his visit, from 28 November to 5 December, the expert visited the capital, Suva, and travelled within Viti Levu and to Nadi, Taveuni and Labasa.

The Special Rapporteur will make a full report to the Human Rights Council in June 2020 on the main findings of his visit.

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