Health and Care is one of three core mandated programmes of the Society. It is the aim of the Society to provide to the most vulnerable communities in Fiji, access to quality health and welfare services and healthy lifestyles through health promotion education and relevant referrals to health and welfare services best suited to their needs. This programme also seeks to bridge gaps in welfare services to the most vulnerable in the community.
Through Health and Welfare, our trained volunteers identify and connect disabled and chronically ill members of the community with agencies such as Social Welfare, Disabled Peoples Association and the local hospital or health centre if there is need for medical attention.
The Health & Welfare programme began as a needs driven service in response to the various health issues faced by the respective communities. For example in some districts water and sanitation education is the priority, in others education on the ill-effects of marijuana or awareness on sexually transmitted infections and condom distribution use among youth.
Over the years it became increasingly evident that the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is also an area of concern. Taking this into consideration, the programme then absorbed health promotion and prevention of NCDs as a key focus. Although it has a strong health promotion component, it is quite different from peer education. It is not designed for specific ‘peer’ education sessions, but rather individual, household and community health promoting sessions.
For the welfare component the key focus areas are providing education, advocacy and support for people from vulnerable communities who have physical and intellectual disabilities, are terminally ill or are elderly and alone. This free service helps to build the capacity of home based carers by teaching them how to care for their loved ones’ special needs and for the elderly who live on their own, mobilise neighbours and friends to take turns in caring for them.
In cases where the needs of the community are best served by a non-government or state-based service, the trained branch volunteers conduct referrals and make every effort to physically connect the two parties.
The following are specific health, welfare and social issues covered by this programme:
Non communicable diseases – diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, high cholesterol level, breast and cervical cancer, disability care, home-based care training, healthy eating habits and planning meals, community care for the mentally ill.
Distribution of free (if available) ambulatory aids such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking frames etc., to indigent patients.
Communicable diseases – health in public emergencies such as typhoid/dengue/leptospirosis outbreaks; sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS; filariasis, skin care & hygiene, upper respiratory tract infections, tuberculosis and leprosy.
Identification and referral to the Department of Social Welfare of those in need of family assistance allowance.
Identification and referral to HART, Habitat for Humanity, PRB for those in need of housing assistance.
Identification and referral to Bayley Welfare, Salvation Army or Save the Children Fund and other service providers for those in need of educational assistance, support and clothing supplies.
The scourge of the 21st century that is HIV continues to be a threat – almost 30 years after it was first recognised as a disease. Over the last decade, the Society has undertaken various community based awareness, peer education activities as well as home visits as part of its ongoing care and support effort for people living with HIV.
The main focus of the Society’s HIV programme in 2009 is places of work. HIV and AIDS in the Workplace is an eight hour training programme geared towards every single worker from those at entry level to occupational health & safety officers to human resource managers all the way up to the senior executive management.
The contents of the course are in three sections which cover:
HIV, AIDS, Gender, STIs;
HIV&AIDS at Work; and
Responsibilities of Employers and Employees, Developing a Workplace Policy.
Currently this training is focused on four categories which are tourism, Manufactures, Wholesalers and Retailers and Construction companies. However this does not limit us to provide training toother workplace settings.
The untimate goal of this programme is to get workplaces to design a work place policy that does not stigmatise and discriminate against workers who are HIV positive. Contact National office, DSCC(W) or DSCC(N) to find out more about organising a session for your workplace
A response package for HIV and AIDS has been created for use in times of disaster. It involves peer education as well as the distribution of Information Education Communication (IEC) material and condoms throughout target areas during disaster preparedness & response activities. The package was created after undertaking a survey to analyse the risk taking behaviour and the incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV before, during and after disasters.
Approximately 40% of people in Fiji live in rural and remote areas. Access into and out of these areas is severely limited; roads are often non-existent and most people lack appropriate transportation. Travel is also dependant on weather conditions and/or restrictive public transport schedules. Therefore, access to local health centres and district hospitals is severely impinged, particularly in the remote communities of the Northern Division. In the event of an illness or accident, residents of these areas are frequently required to walk for days before they receive medical assistance. These remote communities require valuable life saving techniques to prevent the loss of lives and further injury.
Through Community Based Safety First Aid, people will learn how to treat bleeding, infections, sprains and strains, prevent parasitic infections and much more. This is a free service to communities. The contents are a hybrid of Mind That Child , First Aid & CPR as well as dry land water safety tips.
The delivery of this component is dependent on availability of funding and in 2008 the Society successfully applied for funding from the Fiji Water Foundation to fund a project that saw 636 students as well as 274 adults each representing a household in Rakiraki, Tavua and Lautoka attend sessions conducted by our trained branch volunteers.
The overall goal of this service is to promote safer lifestyles that will lead to the reduction of accident related injuries as well as drowning-related deaths in vulnerable communities.
In 2005, the Society handed over its blood collection service to the Ministry of Health. The role of the Society in the collection of blood since has been in the area of advocacy only.
Through trained volunteers in the 15 branches, the Society works in communities by explaining the benefits of becoming a blood donor and helping put to rest myths on blood donations. Anyone interested in becoming a blood donor may contact the office of the National Blood Service at any of the following:
This special fund provides financial assistance to children who require overseas medical treatment. The criteria for qualification are:
That the person requiring the medical assistance is aged 12 years or under;
That the treatment needed cannot be performed within Fiji;
That there is an overseas hospital committed to providing the required treatment; and
That the applicant must have all the required documentation including a medical report from the treating physician in Fiji or overseas, quotations from the overseas medical treatment facility detailing expenses and procedures required, booking confirmation from the overseas medical facility and the original birth certificate of the patient.
For those qualifying, the Society provides FJD$500 towards every FJD$10,000 required. The funds are forwarded directly to the overseas hospital/treatment centre. If you would like to know more, please contact the Health and Care Coordinator at National Office.
Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be the leading infectious killer of adults and young people in the Western Pacific. Approximately 1000 people in the region die from the disease every day. The threat of increasing HIV rates fuelling the TB epidemic is an important emerging challenge in Fiji.
According to the 2008 UNGASS (UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS) country progress report, there were only two cases of co-infection with TB/HIV that are on treatment and follow-up. However, all HIV cases are not routinely investigated for TB but all TB cases are tested for HIV infection. These co-infected cases are treated at the TB hospital in Tamavua.
Three groups of people have been identified as having a high incidence of TB through epidemiological analysis of the National TB Register in Fiji. People living in urban areas, in remote rural settings and people living in areas with high a TB burden represent more than half of the TB incidence in Fiji. However, these population groups are not always easy to access due to their high mobility and geographical limitations.
The main focus of the Society TB programme is to fill in the gap between medical facilities and the community. Health and Care volunteers of the Society work closely with their local village nurse and community leaders in their respective districts to conduct the following activities;
Conducting community sessions on TB
Identify and refer TB cases to local health facilities
Conduct limited home based care support to TB patients and Direct Observe Treatment
Distribution of information and educational materials
Conduct regular visit and follow up to clients in the community
In times of emergency, FRCS is ready to respond and provides quick and effective health relief. Health response in times of emergency aims to fill temporary gaps in basic health care services that are caused by damaged and often overloaded health care systems in affected communities.
In times of pandemic influenza FRCS takes the threat of human influenza pandemic seriously and is committed to supporting planning and preparedness to ensure the continued delivery of essential services within the Fiji Red Cross Society in the event of an influenza pandemic such as the Influenza H1N1.
The distribution of IEC materials, and personal protective equipments (if available) such as gloves, masks and hands senitizer. Visit www.bestdefence.orgfor more information.
Also in times of disasters the provision of safer water and sanitation is also essential.
Through the FRCS Emergency Response teams as part of its response to affected communities, the Society distribute water containers as a measure to ensure affected communities have clean water in storage during disasters. This also includes the distribution of water purification tablets and educational materials. These measures are taken to avoid the spread and outbreak of diseases that follows after a disaster.
According to figures dating June 2009, there are 303 reported cases of HIV&AIDS in Fiji, a figure which has been rising over the years, and which reflects that Fiji is in the escalating phase of the disease. A look at the Fiji HIV&AIDS statistics as of June 2009 indicate that majority of those whom are infected are between the age of 20 to 29 years. With the youth population making up to 65% of the national population, and this same group making up the bulk of the present and future workforce, the socio and economic implications could be serious. Sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies have also been increasing in Fiji amongst the young which increases the risk of young people contracting HIV
To prevent the spread of HIV amongst young people in Fiji, the Society implements Peer Education programs aptly titled ‘Together we Can’ and Educate My Community Too’ targeting youths in rural and remote communities of Fiji. Peer Education has proven to be an effective methodology of dissemination information to peers, in this case young people.
FRCS Peer Educators conduct:
Peer Education outreach activities to communities in their districts
Distribution of sexual health commodities such as male and female condom and demonstration