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Ministry Continues to Raise Awareness on Suicide Prevention

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CC: Pacific Paramedical Training Centre

Published on: 29 Oct, 2018

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Mental Health Unit, Committee on the Prevention of Suicide (NCOPS) is collaborating with Non-Government Organisations, Faith Based and Civil Society Organisations, youth groups and communities to raise awareness on suicide prevention.

On the 12th of October, 2018 a program was organised in Vanua Levu, Labasa to mark the National Day on Mental Health. The theme of this event was “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.” The aim of the Health Ministry was to intensify outreach program in order to reach as many communities as possible.

The NCOPS members also organised a Mental Health Walk for Hope at Sukuna Park and Albert Park in Suva on the 13th of October, 2018 and other events throughout Fiji to reach out to rural and urban settlement, schools, corporate agencies, faith-based and youth groups.

The mental health awareness campaign is an opportunity for the public to socialise and share information on ways to cope with stressors, develop resilience, and manage stressors to prevent severe distress.

Mental Health Gap Program

As part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness on online mental health programs, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has empowered health workers through Mental Health Global Action program (MHGAP) training, which enables those with a non-specialised background in mental health to recognise mental health issues and have the ability to treat these issues in their own setting and communities.

In last two years more than 700 nurses have been trained through free online mental health training which was funded by World Health Organisation. The online mental health training has empowered health workers in divisions and subdivisions to be able to reach out, identify individuals with mental health issues and provide early intervention including suicide.


POLHN has a free-to-take online course on the MHGap. Click here to learn more.

New mental health wellness clinic opens in Tavua

Published on: 18 Oct, 2018

In partnership with its Board of Visitors, Tavua Hospital in Fiji opened a new Mental Health Wellness Clinic on 12 September 2018. The aim of this has been to broaden its services regarding mental health awareness outreach programmes.

The new clinic was officially opened last week, and has been established through renovating an unoccupied building space within the Tavua Hospital premises. The Mental Health Wellness Clinic consists of a consultation room for mental health and a school health programme section that will be managed by a dietician.

Sub-divisional medical officer for Tavua, Dr Oluwafemi O. Ojo says that the new clinic for mental health wellness will greatly boost the outreach awareness programme and support the services the hospital provides to the mental health patients in Tavua.

The awareness programmes in communities and schools will also be coordinated through the new Mental Health Wellness Clinic. Apart from mental health programmes, it will also incorporate health programmes for addressing non-communicable diseases and immunisation.

“We hope to reach out to many more people through this new clinic. Mental health is a critical wellness component and through more awareness we will advocate for a barrier-free society. To ensure that those living with mental health issues are not stigmatised and that those affected have equal voice and opportunity to progress in their lives,” Dr Ojo said.

Through a multi-sectoral approach, the National Committee on the Prevention of Suicide (NCOPS) is reaching out to the NGOs, communities, schools, families, churches on how to cope with stressors, developing resilience, and how to manage their stressors to prevent severe distress. The dedicated Mental Health Wellness Clinic in Tavua is just one of the first steps.

POLHN offers various free-to-take, certified mental health courses. Click here to see more.

Information credit: Anshoo M. Chandra, Senior Information Officer, Executive Support Unit, Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

World Breastfeeding Week 2018 Celebration at Colonial War Memorial Hospital

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CC: Pacific Paramedical Training Centre

Published on: 12 Oct, 2018

World Breastfeeding Week 2018 took place from 6-10 August. The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week was “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life” — a recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to a baby’s future.

Every year, countries around the world observe World Breastfeeding Week for a good reason: breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to provide children with the best possible start to life. This year, the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, Fiji celebrated by conducting decoration competitions and debate sessions.

For the decoration competitions, each ward had to come up with creative ideas and designs in order to meet judges’ criteria. In the debate session, the maternity ward argued why exclusive breastfeeding is best for the baby, while the paediatric ward came up argued why breastfeeding together with supplement are best for both the mother and baby, coming up with some interesting real-life scenarios.

In the closing speech of the event, the acting head of the Department of Paediatrics, Dr Ilisapeci Vereti highlighted the importance of breastfeeding and why breastmilk is so essential during the first six months of life.

“From the earliest moments of a child’s life, breastfeeding can mean the difference between life and death. In fact, breastfeeding newborn babies within the first hour of their life safeguards them against newborn deaths. Improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 823,000 children under age five every year.”

Many different factors can prevent women from breastfeeding. Some women begin breastfeeding when their babies are born but then stop soon afterwards perhaps because of a lack of support, the need to return to work or the thought that they don’t have enough milk.

The latest Fiji nutrition survey showed very low exclusive breastfeeding rates of 40-50%. It also highlighted the issues of re-admission of babies due to breastfeeding issues, poor breastfeeding facility assessment rates and the continual existence of malnutrition in Fiji.

Dr Ilisapeci closed off the successful event with a message of hope: “All things considered, a lot of factors come into play and so every year as health staff and advocates for breastfeeding, we are continually challenged to shine as champions of breastfeeding.”

As we mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, it is crucial that everyone helps and supports mothers in their breastfeeding journey.

POLHN offers two free self-paced courses on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding: Infant and Young Child Feeding and Nutrition- an introduction