The World Health Organization (WHO) provided water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies to Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS)to support the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to enhance WASH in healthcare facilities in Fiji.
The WASH supplies were officially handed over by WHO to MHMS in a ceremony today at the Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services Centre in Suva, Fiji, attended by the Honourable Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu and WHO Representative to the South Pacific Dr Mark Jacobs. Also in attendance during the handover were the Permanent Secretary, Dr James Fong, and Chief Health Inspector, Vimal Deo.
“The Ministry is moving forward to prioritize healthcare facilities in getting better access to water, sanitation and hygiene, power, and internet connectivity wherever possible, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner,” said the Honourable Minister, Dr Lalabalavu, during his speech at the handover ceremony. “Today, with the support and assistance from WHO through the handing over of WASH equipment, the Ministry will begin to take firmer steps towards realizing these goals.”
The WASH supplies, valued at over US$ 43,000, will be distributed by the Ministry to 25 priority healthcare facilities across Fiji. The supplies provided include rainwater tanks, portable toilets, bins, safety boxes, community water filters, and personal protective equipment.
“Fully functioning WASH and healthcare waste management services are critical for infection, prevention and control, ensuring patient safety and quality of care. These essential services also create an environment that supports the dignity and human rights of all care providers and care seekers, especially mothers, newborns and children,” said Dr Jacobs. “And, as has been so clearly demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, WASH services are needed to prevent and effectively respond to disease outbreaks.”
In addition to the supplies, WHO continues to provide technical support in enhancing WASH in Fiji and other Pacific island countries and areas. Recently, WHO and UNICEF conducted training on a risk-based tool called Water and Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool (WASH FIT).
“Attention to WASH is a fundamental priority for the health system, not just during pandemics, but every day, everywhere. It is impossible to provide the safe and good quality care we all need and expect without strong and consistent WASH services,” said Dr Jacobs.
Access to safe and proper WASH services in healthcare facilities is critical in providing quality care, reducing the risk of healthcare-associated infections, and preventing the spread of diseases like cholera and typhoid fever.
“I am glad to note that WHO has been a driving force for WASH in our country, providing funding and technical support for WASH to Fiji over the years. The items handed over today will be used in the hospitals, health centres and nursing stations around the country,” explained Dr Lalabalavu. “I would therefore like to convey my sincerest appreciation to the WHO, especially the Representative Dr Mark and his team for their support and this timely donation. These items will be put to good use.”