Ministry to continue to work with FNU to enhance medical services

Press Release Posted On: September 5, 2023

Participants at the Pacific Islands Health Research Symposium after it was officially opened by the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Honourable Atonio Rabici Lalabalavu.

The Ministry for Health and Medical Services will continue to work with the Fiji National University (FNU) and healthcare professionals to strengthen Fiji’s capacity in public health programmes.

These were the sentiments of the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Honourable Atonio Rabici Lalabalavu, while addressing participants at the opening of the Pacific Islands Research Symposium 2023 at Denarau in Nadi this morning.

“For decades, the Pacific Island governments have championed the cause of public health programmes. However, there has been a conspicuous absence of operational research capacity in regional public health initiatives,” Honourable Lalabalavu said.

Honourable Lalabalavu said the mounting evidence of interactions and synergies between communicable diseases and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific is undeniable, with countries at various stages of the epidemiological transitions.

“We must forge stronger collaborations and enhance the translation and dissemination of research findings between Governments, technical agencies, and local and regional academic institutions,” Honourable Lalabalavu said.

“I wholeheartedly commend the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) for their unwavering dedication to PIHRS and for their exceptional organisations and promotion of this research-focused health symposium, an event I firmly believe is both pivotal and apt.”

Minister for Health and Medical Services Honourable (middle) with FNU Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor Paul Iji (second from right), CMNHS Dean Dr William May (right) with Professor Mahomed Patel (left) and Sunia Soakai at the Pacific Islands Health Research Symposium 2023 at the Sofitel Resort in Denarau, Nadi.

The theme for this year’s symposium is ‘Bridging the Policy Gaps: Pacific Health Evidence to inform Pacific Health Decisions’ with over 215 participants, 68 oral presentations, 30 posters and three keynote addresses and five-panel discussions.

FNU Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Iji said the Pacific Island Health Research Symposium (PIHRS) is a significant milestone for Fiji National University.

The Symposium is delivered under the Fiji Institute of Pacific Health Research (FIPHR), the research arm of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS).

“While our research aims to produce ground-breaking, impactful, and ethical health research that will answer various pressing health challenges, the actual research process will also provide much-needed hands-on experience and strengthen the research capacity of our staff and students. We envisage that all researchers can use current knowledge and techniques to develop strategies, tools and methods to tackle health challenges that are best suited to our local Pacific setting and needs.”

CMNHS Dean, Dr William May, said the Pacific evidence needed to be improved in the literature, and often, policies were adopted from the evidence of best practice from a setting different from ours.

He further said that sometimes, the best evidence is not sought due to a lack of access by the decision-makers.

“The College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences aims to bring together young, as well as seasoned researchers, mentors, academic institutions, government ministries and partners to learn of new evidence and to form stronger partnerships for future meaningful research that will direct the Pacific’s development and decision-making.”

The Symposium was co-funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) via the Pacific Community’s (SPC) PacEVIPP Project.

The Symposium will end on Wednesday.