Medical practitioners from around the country will convene for two days to discuss and formulate the first-ever development of the National Surgical Obstetrics and Anaesthesia Plan for Fiji, which will improve access to surgeries that can save lives and improve the quality of life for Fijians.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at the workshop in Suva, this morning, said the need to develop a National Surgical Obstetric and Anaesthesia Plan for Fiji has risen from the global recognition that there is a huge unmet need for surgical care throughout the world.

“Every year, more than 313 million surgical procedures are performed globally for illnesses, accidents and common conditions across the medical spectrum. But only 6 per cent of these procedures occur in the poorest countries, where over a third of the world’s population live.”

“Our record in Fiji is better, but our goal is to be on par with the most developed countries. Our people deserve no less.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that an additional 143 million surgical procedures are needed in low and middle-income countries each year to save lives and prevent disability for surgically treatable diseases.

It has called on the Member States to identify and prioritise core emergency and essential surgical care that should be made available both at the primary level and at the hospital of first-referral.

“A survey conducted in 2017 revealed that 67 per cent of our population can access specialist surgical care within two hours of their homes, that we have 5.4 surgeons and surgical support personnel per 100,000 people, and our mortality rate related to surgery was 0.8 per cent.”

Prime Minister Bainimarama added this meeting comes as the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in the country, and although the pandemic bears no direct relationship to the subject discussed, the fact that we are about to begin vaccinations reminds us that health care is a joint responsibility.

In acknowledgement, Prime Minister Bainimarama also thanked the WHO and the COVAX facility for providing the first 12,000 doses of vaccine and said that Fiji looks forward to receiving the rest of the vaccines soon.

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