Usamate Urges: Follow Health tips

The following is a message from the Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate. Source: Ministry of Health   The Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to remind
26 Feb 2016 11:53
Usamate Urges: Follow Health tips
Minister for Health and MedicalServices Jone Usamate

The following is a message from the Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate. Source: Ministry of Health


The Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to remind the public to look after their health post Cyclone Winston.

It has been noted that during post natural disasters, there is always a possibility for potential outbreak of diseases. Diseases or illnesses related to poor hygiene, water and food borne related and communicable diseases are common.

Bearing this in mind, the Health Ministry continues to advise people to take utmost care of their health where possible.

In the meantime, we remain fully committed to assist the people of Fiji during this difficult time. Medical teams have been deployed to areas greatly affected by Cyclone Winston with relevant medical supplies. We are working closely with donor agencies and partners who are providing assistance through man power and additional medical supplies.

The extent of damages to health facilities around the country is believed to be huge and is being assessed. We are working speedily to restore full services as soon as possible.

At the moment, it is important for everyone to take preventative and precautionary measures towards safe guarding their health.


Mosquito-borne diseases

Post cyclones, an outbreak or increase in mosquito-borne diseases are expected. As of 15th February 2016 a total of 131 confirmed dengue cases had been reported. I continue to urge the public that while we are cleaning, clearing and picking up the pieces to ensure that we are not allowing mosquitoes a favourable breeding site. Mosquitoes breed in man-made receptacles such as tyres, cans, white goods and other containers that can hold stagnant water.

It is important that we take all necessary action to destroy these places so that mosquitoes do not breed. Remember if they breed, they will spread diseases such as dengue, chikungunya or even zika.


Hand washing

A large percentage of food-borne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands. Appropriate hand washing practices can reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses and other infections such as diarrhoea diseases and typhoid.

Simple steps such as applying soap and rinsing hands using clean water sources is important. People are reminded to engage in proper hand washing:

l               Before, during, and after preparing food

l               Before eating food

l               Before and after caring for someone who is sick

l               Before and after treating a cut or wound

l               After using the toilet

l               After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

l               After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

l               After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

l               After handling pet food or pet treats

l               After touching garbage


Food and water

The public is also reminded to ensure that necessary precautions are taken when dealing with food and water as the country faces electricity and water outages.

Frozen food items must be scrutinised properly before consummation and even purchase to avoid food related illnesses.

Regulatory authorities will be closely monitoring supermarkets, eateries and other outlets.

All drinking and cooking water must be boiled particularly with possible water supply disruptions and flash flooding that could cause water contamination.

Boiling water prior to consumption is important as this will decrease the chances of contracting water borne diseases (typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A).

Families are also advised to ensure that cooked food is properly covered and that food is stored safely. Leftover food that has been spoiled should be discarded and not consumed.


Maintaining regular medications

It is important to continue taking any regular medication in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston. If you have an NCD such as diabetes, high blood pressure or RHD, continuing to take your medication will ensure you stay well despite the difficult circumstances. If you do not have access to your regular medication, see a healthcare worker about how you can obtain it. Where possible, infants due for their immunisations should be seen to by a nurse or doctor.

Disasters result in acute and chronic health effects, particularly in those with pre-existing medical conditions.

The Health Ministry advises all to be mindful of the changes in environment with limited or increased consumption of food, changes in exercise routine, and variable access to medication, refrigeration and monitoring equipment can all contribute to poor diabetic control. A health worker can be contacted for more information.

Fiji has an alarming rate of diabetes and people should take heed of advises on health issues before it’s too late for medical intervention in saving limbs and lives of people.


Recovering emotionally after disaster

Disasters such as cyclones are typically unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. For many people there are no visible signs of physical injury but there can be an emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced disaster to have strong emotional reactions. Understanding responses to distressing events can help you cope with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors and help you along the path to recovery.

The Health Ministry encourages people to talk about their concerns and issues to their family members or for professional assistance, they can contact Empower Pacific for confidential counselling (office hours): 5626 (short code number).

The Community Mental Health Team is based in each division and can be contacted after hours on 3381399 or a health worker can be contacted for more information.


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