Shine A Light

Shine A Light: Mothers Plead For Maternity Care

“We are just calling on the Government to listen to our plight. This is the plight of the mothers of this nation. Mothers are the victims here. We are giving birth to future leaders of this country.” 
31 Jan 2023 10:44
Shine A Light: Mothers Plead For Maternity Care
The Colonial War Memorial Hospital Maternity Ward. Photo: Leon Lord

Mothers fear that the poor condition of the facilities at the Colonial War  Memorial Hospital Maternity Ward leaves them  susceptible to  infections and injuries.

In particular, the state of the bathrooms and toilets in the ward, which has been heavily scrutinized on social media.

A Facebook post by Judy Compain on January 17, 2023, showed pictures of the mold-infested and dilapidated bathrooms and toilets.

These were widely shared on social media. Ms Compain is the president of the International Women’s Association (IWA).

“The bathrooms are in much worse condition than in 2018 and look like there could be a serious outbreak of infection, if there hasn’t been already one,” Ms Compain wrote on Facebook.


Maternity care needs to be paramount in any country. It reflects the Government’s appreciation towards mothers in Fiji.

Sadly, this is not the case for the CWMH Maternity Ward, despite millions of dollars pumped into Fiji’s health sector every year.

The mothers we spoke to unanimously agreed that the state and condition of the bathrooms and toilets had deteriorated over the years.

When we had visited the Maternity Ward, it was clear that no renovation work had been carried out.

The bathrooms were infested with molds. In one bathroom, the sink was broken, cartons were used as door mats, there were no shower curtains, and there were cracks and openings on the ceiling.

Responding to questions, Permanent Secretary for Health Dr James Fong said the ministry of was aware of the maintenance needs of the hospital.

The state of the bathrooms and toilets inside the Maternity Ward at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital on January 25, 2023. Photos: Ivamere Nataro

“We have more recently been able to take advantage of the renewed commitment by Government to facilitate a broader level of community wide engagement in supporting the public health sector,” Dr Fong said.

“Members of the Board of Visitors have been able to identify several organisations who are willing to help in accelerating the maintenance work.”

The working group established by the ministry will look at engaging with private sector and community-based organisations within a formalised framework that will facilitate better co-ordination of the works being done by the ministry, various private sector corporate bodies and community-based organisation, Dr Fong added.

“IWA has also reached out to help and the hospital team will be having a meeting early next week to finalise details of how they intend to support us in regard to the issues they have raised.”



Serafina Laladidi had her first child at the CWMH Maternity Ward in 2009.

She is a mother of six. Four of her children were born in Suva and one was born in Labasa.

“From 2009 until now, nothing has changed, if anything, the state of the hospital has just gone down the drain,” Ms Talei said.

“The rat problem has been there since I gave birth in 2009. I had told friends of mine that there was an opening in the ceiling when I was admitted in 2009. Fast forward to 2015 when I had my fourth child, the opening in the ceiling was still there.”

Ms Talei said she felt sorry for women who cannot afford to go to private doctors or private hospitals.

She said life was already hard for these women, and they expect an easy birth, however that’s not the case.

“We give life and it’s sad to see what’s going on inside the maternity ward. The Government of the day, please look into our plea.”

Adi Alisi Kawakawakilau is a mother of two. Her second child was born in Suva, the eldest in Labasa.

While she commended the staff, she said the condition of the facility was bad and in poor condition.

“There was also a shortage of blankets, and bed sheets, and at one instance we were given curtains to use. My husband had to bring my pillow and blanket,” she said.

“I had seen rodents and cockroaches on the bench, sink and the bathroom and washroom were moldy.”

Adi Alisi said the maternity ward needed to be one of the best wards in hospital. She added that maternity care needed to be prioritised.

“We are just calling on the Government to listen to our plight. This is the plight of the mothers of this nation. Mothers are the victims here. We are giving birth to future leaders of this country.”

Mother of four Nanise Bolatagici gave birth to her four children at the CWMH maternity ward.

She had her first child in 2013, second in 2016, third in 2018 and fourth in 2021.

She said the facilities had deteriorated over the years.

The only change she had noticed in 2016 was the repainting of the walls.

“Some of the wards are really humid, especially the ward next to the room for C-section, there is no ventilation, it was small and crowded,” Ms Bolatagici said.

“In 2021, when I went back, the bathrooms really looked old, moldy. You can tell the cleaning staff tried to keep the place clean.”

The tiles, she said, were slippery, and cartons were used as doormats inside the bathroom.

“There are no shower curtains, so you must take a cloth to use. In 2013, all I wanted was to get in and get out, I never really took time to notice the problems.”

Ms Bolatagici said when a mother gives birth, their surrounding was very important.

She is calling on the Ministry to look into renovating the bathrooms and toilets in the ward.



Millions of dollars had been budgeted by the FijiFirst Government over the past years for the extension and maintenance of the CWMH Maternity Ward.

Former Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition, Voreqe Bainimarama, broke ground on the proposed extension and renovation of the Maternity Ward in 2018. But no work has been carried out to date.

Midwives, who spoke on the condition of not being identified, say there have been no major renovation work, except for minor repair works inside the ward.

A midwife, who has been serving for 10 years, said improvements that were made were just temporary.

“In the last three years there have been maintenance work done, but like I said ‘temporary’ and just like you saw in post natal ward it’s run down again,” she said.

The state of the bathrooms and toilets inside the Maternity Ward at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital on January 25, 2023. Photos: Ivamere Nataro

“At one time there was no water supply, mosquitoes, pests, rodents, the heat (due to ceiling fans or air-conditioner either faulty or not able to accommodate the patients in a ward).”

She said the ward needed a complete face-lift, the delivery rooms, wards, washrooms, and even staff need a proper comfortable rest area since they did 12-hour shifts.

Responding to questions on the use of the allocated budget, Dr Fong said initially some funds were utilised for preparatory works including demolition of old sisters’ quarters, clearance of the site, and early civil works.

“Thereafter, funds allocated were diverted towards meeting the shortfalls in operational allocations mainly relating to the COVID Emergency Response for the past two years,” he said.

“This year we could not use the funds because of significant delays in tender and other related processes. Processes that were not within the Ministry’s control. As such the funds have been returned to the Ministry of Finance for redeployment.



Ms Compain said the IWA was committed to ensuring a clean, decent, and safe bathroom for every woman who goes to the CWMH maternity ward.

“The Ministry of Health is yet to acknowledge that we have some very serious issues in our maternity hospital bathrooms that need to be addressed urgently because of the statement by the Permanent Secretary that the photos we posted were taken a few years ago,” she said.

Ms Compain has outlined to Dr Fong the intentions of the IWA to undertake complete renovations and upgrade of both the CWMH maternity and the children’s hospitals bathrooms.

“We are very interested in what the Aid Agencies have to say about the conditions of these bathrooms and the general state of our hospitals given there are millions of dollars provided to Fiji to support Health annually.

“Also of interest is what the agencies who are here to help specifically support women and health are doing in this space?”

For the past four years, IWA has provided hospitals and health centers with pregnancy test kits.

Since the Facebook post went viral, IWA has received offers from corporate organisations, and donations have been received from as far as the United Kingdom.



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