The Ministry of Health & Medical Services continues to remind the public on health advisories that have been issued.
Relevant authorities have been issuing weather updates and all Fijians are reminded to take heed of the necessary health precautions and to be prepared.
Minister for Health & Medical Services, Hon. Jone Usamate said that following the aftermath of Severe TC Winston, people must take health advisory seriously.
“The Ministry continues to raise awareness on issues that affect health, however, the responsibility remains with each individual to look after their health”.
Certain parts of the country have experienced flooding. This usually affects sewerage outlets, animals and other drainage outlets. Flood waters usually carry contaminations such as animal waste, human faeces and rubbish. People are urged to refrain from wading or swimming in flooded waters for recreational purposes to avoid contracting diseases such as Leptospirosis. Drinking dirty or contaminated water can also cause Typhoid.
A person with open sores or wounds must also take necessary precautions such as avoiding wading in dirty flooded waters and keep wounds clean and covered.
The Health Ministry reiterates that people must refrain from swimming or wading in flooded water to avoid such illness and reminds the public also of the risk of drowning.
The Health Ministry urges and reminds people to ensure that they are following and practicing proper hygiene measures.
The simple act of hand washing with soap and clean water can save lives as it stops the spread of communicable diseases such as Typhoid, Diarrhoea and Conjunctivitis. This is a simple act that we can all practice to save lives.
Wash hands with soap and clean, running water (if available):
· Before, during, and after preparing food
· Before eating food
· After using the toilet
· After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
· Before and after caring for someone who is sick
· After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
· After touching an animal or animal waste
· After touching garbage
· Before and after treating a cut or wound
Destroy mosquito breeding grounds
People are urged to ensure that they are protecting themselves from mosquitoes to avoid diseases such as Dengue and Zika.
Floods will wash out potential mosquito breeding sites. However once floodwaters subside, water is left standing in tyres, cans, tins, puddles and white goods which once again allows mosquitoes to breed .
People are cautioned to keep this in mind and clean up their surroundings and discard such containers. It is also advisable to protect against mosquitoes by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets.
The Health Ministry has also noted a downward trend in confirmed dengue cases being reported. The last reports from week 1 to week 10 state an 8% downward trend in positive cases.
However despite this, people are advised to adhere to necessary precautions against mosquitoes.
A total of 13 Zika confirmed cases have also been reported. The best protection from Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing mosquito bites will protect people from the Zika virus, as well as other diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue and chikungunya. Pregnant women should also protect themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes.
Food safety and water
People are also reminded to ensure that necessary precautions are taken when dealing with food and water as the country continues to face electricity and water outages.
Frozen food items must be scrutinized properly before consumption and even purchase to avoid food related illnesses.
Regulatory authorities will be closely monitoring supermarkets, eateries and other outlets.
All drinking and cooking water must be boiled particularly with possible water supply disruptions and flash flooding that could cause water contaminations.
Boiling water prior to consumption is important as this will decrease the chances of contracting water borne diseases. (Typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis and hepatitis A).
Families are also advised to ensure that cooked food is properly covered and that food is stored safely. Leftover food that has been spoiled should be discarded and not consumed.
Maintaining regular medications
It is important to continue taking any regular medication in the aftermath of natural disasters. If you have an NCD such as diabetes, high blood pressure or RHD, continuing to take your medication will ensure you stay well despite the difficult circumstances. If you do not have access to your regular medication, see a healthcare worker about how you can obtain it. Where possible, infants due for their immunizations should be seen to by a nurse or doctor.
Disasters result in acute and chronic health effects, particularly in those with pre-existing medical conditions.
The Health Ministry advises all to be mindful of the changes in environment with limited or increased consumption of food, changes in exercise routine, and variable access to medication, refrigeration and monitoring equipment can all contribute to poor diabetic control. A health worker can be contacted for more information.
Fiji has an alarming rate of diabetes and people should take heed of advises on health issues before it’s too late for medical intervention in saving limbs and lives of people.