Opinion

PM Launches ‘CLEAN UP FIJI’, ‘FIGHT THE BITE’ Campaigns

This is a full text of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s speech during the launch of the ‘Clean Up Fiji’ and ‘Fight the Bite’ campaign yesterday.   The Honourable Ministers for
13 May 2016 07:28
PM Launches ‘CLEAN UP FIJI’,  ‘FIGHT THE BITE’ Campaigns
Government Ministers at the launch of the campaign.

This is a full text of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s speech during the launch of the ‘Clean Up Fiji’ and ‘Fight the Bite’ campaign yesterday.

 

The Honourable Ministers for Health; Industry, Trade and Tourism; and Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management,

The Honourable Deputy Minister for Health,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Today we are officially launching a concerted national clean-up campaign in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston. It involves all ministries of Government pooling their resources and co-operating across a broad front to clean up Fiji.

Of course, an intense clean-up has been going on in all the cyclone affected areas over the past three months. But we want to take that clean-up to another level and extend it across the entire country.

The civil servants across the various ministries are being assigned particular tasks as part of this initiative.

But today I want to appeal to every Fijian to join us in cleaning up our nation once and for all.

To remove not only cyclone-related debris but all rubbish, all litter, that has accumulated over the years.

And is despoiling our pristine surroundings and having a negative impact on our international image.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot sell ourselves to the world as the place “where happiness finds you” with any credibility if we don’t take pride in it and look after it.

I am personally ashamed when I see litter strewn by the side of the road and I know that many of my fellow Fijians feel the same.

Because I know that if I can see it, our international visitors can also see it.

And are perhaps going home and saying: “Fijians are great people but in far too many places, they’ve turned their country into a rubbish dump”. And as sad as it is to say, they’d be right.

 

Time for change

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to change. High time to crack down on the litterers. Those who strew rubbish around.

Those who don’t care for their surroundings. Those who give us all a bad name. It is high time for us all to band together and Clean Up Fiji.

We must use Cyclone Winston to create a fresh slate. We must use the “Help for Homes” program to convince the Fijian people to take better care of their immediate surroundings.

To take more pride, not just in their new homes but where they live. To restore the pride we should all have in the appearance of our communities.

We must use our “Adopt a School” program to instil the same level of pride among our young people in their surroundings.

I have spoken a lot recently about young Fijians taking a lead in the fight against litter. Well now I want them to also be in the vanguard of a new campaign to really make Fiji the way the world should be.

Clean, litter free and an example to the region and the rest of the world of how people can live in harmony with their environment. Not abuse and despoil it.

There is another vital imperative. A clean Fiji is a healthy Fiji. Rubbish harbours disease.

And today as part of that wider clean-up campaign, I am declaring a new war on one of our principal threats to public health – the mosquito.

It is a war that as a nation, we intend to win. And I am here today as Prime Minister to fire the opening salvo. And to issue a call to arms to every Fijian of every age to join me.

 

Fight this battle

From the smallest child to our most venerable elder, we need everyone to fight this battle against the mosquito. To destroy this pernicious, blood-sucking, disease-carrying pest by destroying its breeding sites – anywhere where water accumulates.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is obviously not the first time we have targeted the mosquito in Fiji. We have always had an on-going campaign, interspersed with concentrated bursts of action such as during the major Dengue outbreak of 2014.

But never before have the stakes been so high. Because on top of Dengue and Chickungunya, we have a new threat, a new mosquito-borne disease – Zika.

It is of the highest national importance that we minimise the risk of the Zika virus spreading.

It is an infection that has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

And we need to eradicate any mosquitos that may be carrying it with a concerted national effort to eradicate their breeding grounds.

And to encourage every Fijian to do everything they possibly can to avoid being bitten by mosquitos in the first place.

We’re calling this aspect of the campaign “Fight the Bite”. We’ve borrowed the slogan from our Hawaiian friends who’ve mounted the same type of initiative. And here’s what it entails:

You need to avoid being bitten by wearing long, loose and light clothing, to sleep with the windows shut or use mosquito nets. And you need to use an insect repellent that contains the chemicals DEET, IR3535 or icaridin.

I ask the parents of Fiji to take particular responsibility for making sure that their children are protected at all times. But everyone is at risk. Everyone.

I repeat: these mosquitos are much more than a pesky nuisance. They are dangerous disease carriers. And you must do everything you can to protect yourselves and your families.

To remove every possible place where mosquito larvae or eggs can be laid and help do everything we can to nip this crisis in the bud.

 

Take charge

My message to every Fijian is to take charge of your own surroundings, your own property. Make sure your grass is cut.

Make sure your drains and roof gutters are clear and water doesn’t accumulate there. Empty the water from every container around your compound.

Put a cover over any stored water. Bury any tin cans or bottles and keep unused tyres dry.

This is a war that we have to win and I have a special message for the children and young people of Fiji.

As well as asking you to be guardians of the environment and lead the anti-litter campaign, I asked you all two years ago to join our battle against Dengue Fever.

Many children responded to that call. And I am now asking you all again to join our grown-ups and become warriors against the mosquito.

First of all, you need to “Fight the Bite” – to protect yourselves against mozzie bites. Put on some kind of mosquito repellent so you don’t get bitten when you go out.

Ask your parents to get you some if you don’t already have it. Sleep under a mosquito net if you can. Get your parents or an older brother or sister to light a coil.

It’s very important that you take responsibility to keep yourself and those around you safe.

In the daylight hours, with your repellent on, that’s when you can go to war as well.

To join the hunt for those places where mozzies are breeding and hiding.

Go into your backyard and make sure there’s no water in anything – a bucket, a plastic container, anything that can hold water for any length of time. Tip them over or throw them out. Dispose of them properly.

Get together with your friends and track down these places where the mosquitos are coming from, carrying these terrible diseases.

Clean up around your houses. Remove containers or rubbish that hold water. Empty your pot plant trays, empty the water out of old tyres, household rubbish or tarpaulins. Make sure your parents keep the gutter clear and the grass cut.

Children, as in the case of our anti-litter campaign, I am giving you all permission as Prime Minister to pester your parents about this. To be as pesky as any mosquito if need be.

Because we are all facing a very serious threat of catching disease, a threat to the health of every Fijian. And only by working together as one nation, one people, young and old, can we win this war.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to warmly thank every Fijian who has already been part of the cleanup after Cyclone Winston and especially our health and vector service teams.

Since last month, major clean-ups have commenced in the Western and Northern divisions.

In the Western Division, 261 loads of rubbish have so far been collected from more than 60 communities stretched over the four subdivisions. In the Northern Division, 30 loads have been collected so far from the three subdivisions.

Our teams have also been spraying affected areas, we’re already carrying out community awareness programmes and we’ve started to enforce the law, launching four prosecutions so far for accumulated rubbish.

As I said, civil servants across the ministries are to be engaged in a general clean up. But we are especially targeting areas that have been identified as mosquito-borne disease hot spots.

These include the Nausori and Lami town council areas, and I appeal to the residents of both places to be especially vigilant, along with those living in other parts of Fiji who have also been designated more at risk.

The priority areas are being publicised as part of this campaign and I ask the media to do all it can to make people aware of them.

But, my fellow Fijians, we need a more concerted effort from everyone. So whether you are an individual or a group of friends, a school, community, sporting or religious group, we need your urgent assistance to join the clean-up.

And, of course, when we clean up Fiji, we will not only be minimising the risk of disease, we will all have cause to be a lot more proud of our beloved homeland.

My fellow Fijians, this campaign begins now and I ask you all to join it. To  “Clean-up Fiji” and in doing so, to “Fight the Bite” of those pesky mosquitos and destroy their breeding places.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

 

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