Wednesday 2nd September, 2020
Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Assalamo-alaikum and Noa’ia e mau’ri. Following the Suva Mini-conference on the 25th of July, 2020, the West Mini-Conference was recently held on the 29th of August, 2020 at the prestigious Radisson Blue Resort in Denarau. To put it mildly, it was by far the best organized in terms of the location, organization and content. It was run like a well-tuned Swiss watch and all the participants thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Just like the Suva Mini-Conference, it was a moment of catharsis for all the participants who attended. Most members also brought along their family members and in addition to an excellent conference, they were able to spend some quality time with friends and family which helped them unwind. The format was similar to the Suva Mini-Conference but it certainly had a Western flavor which started off with a bang in the form of a debate based on Fiji’s response to COVID-19. The whole aim of the debate focusing on Fiji’s response to COVID-19 was to take stock of what we did well and identify areas in which we can improve. The objectives of the debate were achieved in spades as the debaters, plus the audience was able to thrash out many issues that may not have otherwise been addressed. We are planning on forwarding the resolutions from this debate to the Ministry of Health to help aid their armamentarium in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.
The middle session highlighted a very pertinent issue which is “Professional responsibility on Social Media”. We have to accept and embrace that our world is evolving and that social media plays a dominant part in our lives. It has numerous good qualities however it does come with certain caveats as well. The audience was given a master-class on the proper usage of social media and its implications and ramifications if one deviates from the purpose it is intended. Doubts and queries were addressed and we were all wiser in terms of how to be social media savvy. The final session was an excellent mix of clinical topics, protocols and even challenging the status quo of health care delivery in Fiji. One talk that really stood out for me personally was by our Executive council member Dr. Ahmed Shakeel Shariff who spoke on bridging the gap between Public and Private Health Care. He was able to articulate and provide real time solutions which are sensible and measures that can be instituted immediately. We must accept the fact that to deliver quality health care, you need a lot of resources and resources cost money. We also agree that health care is a basic human right and must be available universally to all citizens. We are thankful that we have a Government that has this vision and commitment but we must also acknowledge the fact that the Government cannot achieve this single-handedly. Collaboration with the Private sector is vital and as Dr. Shariff’s talk articulated beautifully, the solutions do not need to be complicated. Rather, on the contrary, we need to utilize the immense potential in terms of resources and expertise that is available right now in the private sector by engaging in some meaningful dialogue. I believe we need to set up a think tank with the right advisors, the right people with vision and patriotism who can and will be able to provide sound advice and guidance in actualizing our ultimate goal of quality health care for all. Let us hope, that these discussions that we are having in our conferences, are taken heed of by the powers that be and the suggestions and recommendations are given consideration. Fiji has many visionary Doctors who have a deep understanding of how to change our struggles to glory and the challenge is listening and embracing these individuals if we truly want to make a difference.
Our final mini-conference in the North will be during the last week of October. We are keen on continuing the same robust themes and getting maximal participation from our North-based members. We will advise on the updates in terms of the exact venue and dates as we confirm the logistics. As is true in any war, the battlers do not have endless reserves of energy and we must all be cognizant of this fact in our ongoing war against COVID-19. We must, as colleagues, look after each as well as ourselves and work smart. Learn to take short, power-breaks and re-charge the batteries so that we can all finish this marathon with all our respective heads held up high.
Vinaka vakalevu, Khuda Hafiz, Daniyabaad and Fa’eksia
Dr Basharat Munshi
Fiji Medical Association