The number of COVID cases in Fiji is estimated at 13.6 per million. Even though this might seem like a low number, is the healthcare system coping with the crisis?
One fact about healthcare infrastructure is that the facilities in rural areas are pretty basic and inefficient. In most cases, people have to travel for hours just to be seen by a doctor.
Although private healthcare is accessible in Fiji, it’s mainly in Suva or Nadi. Thankfully, the government has started progressing with the first health PPP in the Pacific Islands.
Keep reading to find out the details about Fiji’s healthcare at the moment.
An Overview of Healthcare in Fiji
Most people hear Fiji and think of clear water, beaches, and holiday photos. But, in reality, the locals don’t live this dream-like lifestyle.
Even though the government has invested 70% of its funding in healthcare and private hospitals created by healthcare companies, there’s still a long way to go until all citizens have equal healthcare.
Public Healthcare in Fiji
Public healthcare infrastructure varies depending on the area you live in. For instance, you can expect better hospitals in urban areas than in rural communities.
For expats, there is always the option of receiving medical treatment at a public hospital, but the waiting time is long, and most people prefer to go private.
However, in recent years there’s been the introduction of the first Emergency Medical Assistance Team (FEMAT), which is the first of its kind on the Pacific Islands.
The service can treat up to 100 patients per day across the Pacific. This includes clinical care services and non-trauma/severe trauma accidents.
Private Healthcare in Fiji
Despite overall poverty levels decreasing in Fiji, compared to Southeast Asia healthcare, there is still work to be done. Private hospitals offer better treatment for people, but it comes at a high price.
That’s why it’s advised that expats and other people travelling through Fiji bring their medical supplies if necessary. That means there must be written documentation from a doctor prescribing outside medicine.
Pharmacies are located in towns and cities and close to some holiday resorts. But, the pharmacies are not open 24/7, so you need to go during open hours to get the medicine.
Health Hazards in Fiji
In terms of health hazards, there are a few problems that local communities have to deal with regularly. The Burnet Institute from Australia is bringing new solutions to prevention methods for dengue fever and diabetes.
This inclusion of better treatment is helping raise life expectancy rates and is providing a more attractive location for expats.
Luckily, water is no longer a problem for people living in Fiji. Since 2018, when the Fijian government took part in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Summit, the water has been healthy and safe.
However, as the pandemic has hit the world, it’s highlighted some additional flaws in the healthcare system compared to healthcare in Southeast Asia, for example.
How COVID-19 Affected Fiji
The first case of COVID-19 was found in March of 2020. Some areas of Fiji were separated into ‘medical containment zones’ by 2021, but since then, things have slowed.
For instance, in Viti Levu, most people live in squatter settlements where it’s been hard to isolate and track the infection rates in these regions. Therefore, the rule of “staying at home” was problematic in Fiji.
Besides vaccines and housing problems, here are some other challenges that Fiji faces after the pandemic:
- Not enough hospitals
- Insufficient emergency transport
- Limited medical staff
So, there’s a need for better funding to prepare the country for possible pandemics in the future and protect poorer areas from infections that spread in small towns.
But what’s the answer? Is it a healthcare company that boosts private hospitals?
The Future of Healthcare in Fiji
In 2018, the Fijian government signed a contract with Aspen Medical, giving citizens access to two hospitals. The idea was to provide better training for medical staff, upgrade facilities, and create new medical services.
That way, the country would have improved elderly care services and better quality of life for people in Fiji.
The government’s mission was to improve the living conditions in Fiji and raise public health to a world-leading level. Unfortunately, in 2021, the Lautoka hospital shut down and has not reopened.
This means only one hospital is open, and people have limited access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Solutions to Healthcare Issues
Healthcare is one of the biggest problems developing countries like Fiji face, so a strategic plan must be implemented to improve the healthcare infrastructure.
Firstly, that begins with long-term economic growth.
The current state of healthcare in Fiji and the future of its healthcare depends on how much economic input the local hospitals and doctors are getting.
That’s why other wealthy countries get healthier – because they have more money than developing parts of the world.
Therefore, to change the flaws in the healthcare system in Fiji, there need to be improvements to the economy.
Change the Political Climate
A major part of fixing a healthcare system is figuring out the root cause of the problem. Often, factors like discrimination, violence, and other inequalities will make people sick and lead to more hospital visits.
To change the healthcare infrastructure, governments need to focus on bridging the gap between issues and finding an effective solution.
Here are some ways policies can make changes in society so that there’s less pressure on healthcare systems:
- Community-based rehabilitation services
- Mental health interventions for people of all ages
- More support for people with disabilities
When it comes to making space and healthcare more accessible to people with disabilities, it’s essential to build new public buildings that are equipped with the right features.
Encourage Expats to Move
Of course, having more people moving to your country will bring in more money and help the economy thrive. But, if the healthcare system isn’t supportive and accessible, then no one will want to move to Fiji.
There are no specific vaccines required to enter Fiji, but if you’re moving permanently, it’s good to get regular vaccines. The good news is that there are many opportunities for freelancers and professionals in Fiji.
Make Drugs More Affordable
If people need medical assistance and have to get medicine, they need to be able to afford it. In Fiji, many people can’t afford their medicine which means the hospital rates increase.
In Western parts of the world, drugs such as antibiotics and painkillers are available to the patients who need them. Another way to improve the healthcare system is to make drugs more affordable.
The Benefits of a Good Healthcare System
To be able to understand why it’s so essential to improve the healthcare infrastructure in Fiji, it’s important to see how it will benefit people’s lives.
For example, if people have primary care, they can see a regular doctor. This creates trust and encourages people to seek medical treatment.
When you have one doctor who sees you for everything from getting blood work to having a new vaccine, this makes the process of getting healthcare much easier when patient records are in the same place.
A doctor can simply look up your records and determine the right treatment based on your medical history.
COVID-19 has limited healthcare for patients, meaning they’ve had to wait for months or even years for a surgery.
Making healthcare a priority is key for the future, and since the hospital has shut down, there needs to be an alternative ready for people who need urgent care.
However, if there wasn’t a sudden shortage of medical help, there wouldn’t be a reason for a solution.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Aspen Medical and how it’s affected people in Fiji, our blog can give you recent, up-to-date news on the healthcare system.
No matter what social class or area of residency, everyone should have high-quality medical resources and a better quality of life.
Even though private medical treatment is great for upgrading facilities and having more funding, it only works when there’s a long-term commitment.
In the case of Fiji, Aspen Medical has not been substantial in solving healthcare problems. So, it’s important to stay informed and do what you can to improve healthcare for all Fijian citizens.
Stay in the Loop About Healthcare Infrastructure in Fiji
Sometimes, it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get the correct information from news outlets, so you want to find a reliable place for updates on healthcare infrastructure.
You’ll be happy to know that our blog is the place for you. We inspire action against inadequate healthcare systems.
Are you frustrated with Aspen Medical for letting down Fiji? Do you want to teach yourself about what’s going on with the healthcare system now?
Then visit the blog and take a look at more articles about healthcare in Fiji. You can find everything you need to get involved and take action.