No disease outbreak, Fiji Health facilities damage reach $3million mark

More than a week Tropical Cyclone Winston ravaged parts of Fiji there have been no indications of any disease outbreak to date.

The Health Ministry is working very closely with UNICEF for integrated communication with disaster-affected communities.

Normally during a Cyclone mosquitoes are washed away, and in two or three weeks affected areas have issues of an outbreak.

However, the Ministry of Health has warned possible outbreak of dengue and Zika virus.

The quick response by the Ministry and WHO in providing basic health kits has helped curb an outbreak.

“Very careful to say there’s nothing suspected yet, we don’t want to create panic in people. But I think the most important thing is for community to look at prevention, hand washing. Good water source, make sure that you have good toilets and all of those. Some of the things that we can do are very simple. Just wash your hands when you prepare your food, when you drink, very simple thing,” said Jone Usamate – Minister for Health.

In some instances, kits nearing their expiry date were handed out to people in some evacuation centers.

“We’re going to make sure that as much as possible we try to prevent those things from happening. Sometimes things that have been in-store for some time and you move it out, people have not checked that so at the moment we want to make sure that we can check that thoroughly so we make sure we don’t have about to expire medicines or about to expire any other kits that we have, said Minister Usamate.

As rubbish can also be a contributor to the outbreak, military personnel from Fiji, Australia and New Zealand and volunteers are clearing everything before the re-building phase.

“With all the destruction, it’s going to be very important, it’s mixed debris so you’ve got wood and concrete and glass and people, children running around barefoot and also all of the gardens and the farming areas are covered with debri,” said Osnat Lubrani–Humanitarian Coordinator for Fiji – UN.

UNICEF has provided seven basic health kits to the Rakiraki Hospital, Qarani, Nasau and Nabasovi Health Centers and Lomaloma Hospital in Vanua Balavu.

Meanwhile, over $3 million (US$1.5 million) of health-care facilities have been damaged.

That constitutes 38 percent of total facilities.

UN-OCHA has confirmed that more than 26,000 people in the most affected areas have been provided with supplies to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation.

Among 204 hospitals, health centers and nursing stations, 8 sustained major damages, and 55 minor damages.

The damages vary from complete destruction to roofs damage, leaking roofs, power and water outages and loss of medical supplies.

“At the moment the focus is on making sure that people are safe. But in the meantime as we have provisional estimates of the damage we’ll keep on improving those estimates. I think at the moment it’s around over $3million dollars, probably will be higher than that,” said Jone Usamate – Minister for Health.

Due to increasing reports regarding safety and security of evacuation centers and displaced people, cleanliness is the the Ministry’s priority.

“We have our forking machines that throws all the chemicals that’s now available on Koro so we working to clean all the villagers, make sure that they clean and make sure that we try to address mosquitoes at the same time toilets and good water supply but there are other agencies that are involved in this like Water Authority of Fiji.”

Koro Island, Ovalau, Vanuabalavu, Southern Taveuni and the coast of Northern Tailevu to Ra are five priority areas for medical response teams to visit.

“For instance in the island of Koro people have been sourced from Viti Levu so they’re helping out. In Tailevu North and in Ra people have been sourced from other places to go and supplement for people that are already there.”

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to deploy mobile medical teams to provide outreach services.

“We have an American team that’s helping out in Namarai and there’s other teams that are helping out in Rakiraki. Very soon we expect other teams to be helping us in other places like Vanuabalavu, there’ll be a New Zealand team that is there.”

Yacata, the Northern Lau  Group  particularly Vanuabalavu,  Southern  Taveuni,  Lomaiviti  Group  particularly  Koro,  parts of  Tailevu-Naitasiri , Rakiraki, Ba, and Yasawa are major  affected sites in terms  of  health.