February 2021 Member Update
Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Assalamo-alaikum and Noa’ia e mau’ri.
Mutant strains, vaccine games and cyclone pains! Hello 2021, or are you 2020 on steroids! All would be forgiven for feeling like we are treading water in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean at night in a storm. Just when we surface for a much needed gasp of air, BAM! We are hit in the face with another huge wave taking us down, making us paddle even harder to reach the surface for another whiff of that beautiful oxygen. Surely the easy thing to do would be to stop paddling, stop fighting the seemingly inevitable and just let go. Yes there will be a short period of intense asphyxia and panic but beyond that the struggles would be over; right? But that is not who we are. We are Fijians. We are one of the most resilient people ever. Whatever life throws at us, we smile, turn it into a meme and throw it back at life and yell “is that all you’ve got”? We have been blessed with an eternally positive frame of mind and adaptability is our middle name. We will keep on fighting!
I would like to thank the Rakiraki and Sigatoka FEMAT teams for holding the fort at the height of tropical cyclone Ana. There is a lot sacrifice that you are all making to ensure critical clinical services are available to our people. Also, the Public Health teams will be mobilized and on the march after Ana and Bina have done what they were ordained to do. It is good to see that we are taking the proactive approach in trying to reduce the burden of infectious diseases such as leptospirosis, Typhoid and Dengue fever. This will again require a lot of walking through challenging terrain out of your comfort zone but it will all be worth it because it translates into lives saved. Similar to our people, our Health force is a resilient one and whatever curve balls are thrown at us, we have our game faces ready.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and it is encouraging to see that Fiji will not be a bystander but rather actively pursue in sourcing the vaccine and administering it to our people. As with anything new, we must first and foremost understand the benefits, potential risks, and do the scales test to determine whether a particular intervention would make sense. If and when it does, we must also be collaborative with our people so that they too understand the benefits and risks which will then make acceptance on their behalf much easier. Our Health machinery is well adapted to mass vaccinations as evidenced by our high rates of immunization and we had the measles mass vaccination campaign not too long ago. Our experience will be invaluable in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination when we are ready and I am have utmost faith in Ministry of Health in determining the order of priority in which the vaccines will be administered. It is interesting to note whilst discussing vaccines, the mutant strains of Coronavirus that have been reported. What impact these strains will have in terms of transmissibility, morbidity, mortality and effectiveness of vaccines remains to be seen. Just when we think we have a handle on things, COVID-19 shifts the goalposts ever so slightly!
Please listen to the weather updates and ensure safety for you families and yourselves with Tropical Cyclone Bina approaching. We beseech the Almighty for mercy and protection of the most vulnerable amongst us.
Vinaka vakalevu, Khuda Hafiz, Daniyabaad and Fa’eksia.
Dr Basharat Munshi
Fiji Medical Association