SUVA / GENEVA (5 December 2019) – Fiji has good opportunities and strong political will to realise the right to health – but achieving this goal will depend as much on addressing violence, discrimination and inequalities as on investment in its healthcare system, a UN expert said after a visit to the country.
“Fiji has invested in all the main elements of healthcare, including primary and specialised care. It has modernised outpatient and hospital care, invested in infrastructure and increased salaries for medical doctors,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, presenting a preliminary statement at the end of his eight-day mission.
“I welcome Fiji’s strong political will to ensure that people can realise their right to health, and I am pleased that it has very good opportunities to do so.
“Of course it is important to continue investing in a sustainable health care system with a focus on primary care, but it is equally essential to seriously address the major determinants of health, such as violence, discrimination and inequalities that threaten the effective realisation of people’s right to health.
“The key to success is critical analysis, recognising the current gaps and identifying the measures needed to close those gaps.”
The Special Rapporteur said more attention should be paid to violence against women and children, including implementing existing laws.
“Fiji should make full use of its existing legislation and policies to combat violence against women and other vulnerable groups,” he said. “This needs measures that are adequately supported with resources and that are in line with a human rights-based approach and based on scientific evidence.”
Puras also highlighted the mental health of the Fijian population as an emerging priority.
“Psychosocial interventions for children and adults with mental health conditions should be available at the community level, and all healthcare workers should be empowered to be involved in the provision of mental health support and care, in the same way as they manage physical health conditions,” said the expert.
“Community-based rehabilitation services should be developed to support people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
The Special Rapporteur commended the Government of Fiji for its good management of the recent measles outbreaks.
During his visit, from 28 November to 5 December, the expert visited the capital, Suva, and travelled within Viti Levu and to Nadi, Taveuni and Labasa.
The Special Rapporteur will make a full report to the Human Rights Council in June 2020 on the main findings of his visit.
Mr. Dainius Pūras (Lithuania) took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health took up his functions as on 1 August 2014. Mr. Pūras is the Director of Human rights monitoring institute in Vilnius Lithuania, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and public mental health at Vilnius University and teaches at the faculties of medicine and philosophy of the same university. He is a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health and child health.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page - Fiji
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