The Fijian Government has prioritised the health sector in the 2023-24 National Budget.
Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad said the delivery of health services in Fiji has been far from satisfactory and public health facilities are in a state of decay.
Prof Prasad said over the years there has been a complete lack of investment in improving the infrastructure all across health facilities, including the CWM Hospital and Lautoka.
“I have said this publicly and there is no denying that we have never had such bad health services in the independent history of our nation.”
“It is going to be a difficult task, but we have clearly put our focus on the maintenance of our existing infrastructure, and overall improvements in service delivery,” he said.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is allocated a budget of $453.8 million, a significant increase of $58.7 million from this year.
- $63 million has been allocated for public health programmes, Emergency Radiology and Laboratory Services, procurement of drugs, consumables, medicines, and purchase of bio-medical equipment and accessories and
- $2.5 million is allocated for the Kidney Dialysis Treatment Subsidy. The allocation has been increased by $1 million from this year’s level to cater for the increase in the dialysis subsidy from the current $150 per session to $180.
- $16.4 million is allocated for the upgrade and maintenance of urban hospitals and institutional quarters, permanent walkway for the maternity hospital at CWM, purchase, installation and replacement of ICT equipment, and a major interior upgrade of Labasa hospital.
Prof Prasad said that the Ministry of Finance through the Strategic Planning Office will work very closely with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Works to ensure efficient and timely maintenance of our hospitals and health centres as this has been a major problem as well as assist in the strengthening of the asset management unit of Ministry of Health.
“We cannot build new hospitals or health centres if we are not able to maintain what we have right now. Some of the hospitals and health centres do not need large amounts of money to upgrade.”
“Some simply need a few window louvres, the replacement of missing tiles, painting, roof repairs, fixing of doors and mosquito netting on window. We can easily do this.”
He said the previous Government had tried to expand the coverage of healthcare services through an outsourcing model to engage the service of private general practitioner’s dental operators and medical laboratories during the pandemic.
“From 1 August 2023, only patients with a combined household income of $30,000 or less per annum can qualify for the free services at the private practitioners,” he added.