Wednesday 4th December, 2019
Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Assalamo-alaikum and Noa’ia e mau’ri. I would like to thank all the members for all the hard work you have done this week in your respective disciplines. It is with heavy hearts that we grieve with our Colleague and brother, Dr Eliki Nanovo, who lost his son in a sudden, unexpected tragedy recently. Losing a loved one is hard; losing a child suddenly and unexpectedly is devastating. As brothers and sisters of our colleague, we hereby offer our thoughts and prayers in these trying times and we pray that Dr Nanovo and his family find peace. Let us all take time to reflect in his moment of sadness and remind ourselves of the fragility of life and ensure that we have holistic measures to keep our loved ones safe. This includes identifying and mitigating potential risks such as fires, earthquakes and cyclones. Our ability to respond in times of crisis is much better if we have done some preparatory drills prior. So I urge all of you to continue to think about the safety of your loved ones.
Another challenge that our beloved nation is facing is the resurgence of measles. To date we have 15 confirmed cases of measles. We have not had any deaths from measles and the credit goes to the excellent coordination between our tertiary and secondary health care with primary health care. We are blessed as a nation that we have had good leadership in health and this is reflected in our immunization rates. According to estimates, our herd immunity is around 94% and that is why the number of cases of measles is contained. We take our hats off to Fiji CDC and all the brave nurses and doctors that actively hunt down contacts and vaccinate them. They go through some challenging terrain to access some of these remote villages and we are fortunate to have such passion and commitment amongst our health workers. We must continue to maintain the high standards we have set and we must continue to support the ongoing vaccination efforts so that our beloved nation is protected. As we speak, the Central Division is rolling out their second wave of mass vaccinations. The Fiji Medical Association fully supports and backs this effort and we wish all the brave troopers all the best as they walk, hike, and swim to some almost unreachable villages.
We also offer our thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters in Samoa who are not faring well with the measles outbreak. They currently have 3,728 cases of measles and 53 deaths from measles. The deaths are mainly in children with 50 being children under the age of 15. This is extremely sad. According to WHO reports, Samoa had 31% vaccination coverage prior to the epidemic. This extremely low coverage has led to this epidemic and epidemiological models predict that the total number of cases will peak at 6000-7000 cases and the total number of deaths will be 60-70 for a country of approximately 200 000 people. This is not accounting for the mass immunization efforts that have been implemented since the outbreak. These are trying times indeed for our brothers and sisters in Samoa and we pray that they get through this and that there is a massive shift in public perception towards vaccination not only for measles but for other potentially lethal diseases as well. We stand by our Pacific Island brethren with solidarity.
Vinaka vakalevu, Khuda Hafiz, Daniyabaad and Fa’eksia and Talofa
Dr Basharat Munshi
Fiji Medical Association