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Health, sanitation major concerns

Monday 14 March 2016 | Published in Regional

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SUVA – The Fiji Red Cross says its biggest concerns for Fiji are shelter, water and food security, with health and sanitation issues also starting to appear.

It says it has assessed about 11,000 households, and is currently focussing on aid distribution efforts.

The Fiji Red Cross director general, Filipe Nainoca, says most of what they are currently providing is to assist people to build or get temporary shelter.

“The issue of course now is with water, water supply. Communities affected, their water sources have been affected, and so we of course in the second phase we’ll be looking at assisting them on that.

“Food supply of course is important because most of these people have had their plantations destroyed.”

Filipe Nainoca says health issues are also starting to appear as hygiene is directly related to the availability of water.

He says there are reports of diarrhea, and toilets and sanitation is also an issue due to flush toilet systems being destroyed by the cyclone.

Nainoca says they are encouraging villages and communities to dig deep toilets.

Authorities in Fiji say a woman from Koro Island has become the latest victim of Tropical Cyclone Winston, bringing the death toll to 44.

The National Disaster Management Office director Akapusi Tuifagalele said the woman had been hospitalised for a while with injuries she sustained during the cyclone.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with Fiji’s Prime Minister yesterday, as the Pacific island country attempts to rebuild in the wake of Cyclone Winston.

The Australian Government has committed $15 million in humanitarian assistance for the country and sent more than 500 tonnes of resources and equipment on 30 relief flights.

It also deployed its largest Navy vessel, the HMAS Canberra, with about 60 tonnes of emergency relief supplies.

On Sunday, Bishop travelled to Fiji for a two-day visit to oversee those relief efforts on the ground.

She spent the day on the country’s remote Koro Island, touring some of the hardest-hit communities and meeting with locals.

She also met with Australian soldiers working on the ground and thanked them for their timely service.

“This is our neighbourhood, this is our region,” she told them.

Bishop was also to meet with Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and her Fijian counterpart Inoke Kubuabola for formal talks, before also meeting with Australian aid workers.

Australian medical teams have treated more than 1500 people in mobile health clinics, including specialist treatment centres for women affected by the cyclone.

New Zealand defence force personnel in Fiji helping in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston are concentrating their efforts on rebuilding schools.

Some of the engineers, drivers and medical personnel have been in the worst hit part of northern Viti Levu, but most of the personnel are in the Lau group to help out on the many small islands that were virtually wiped out by the cyclone.

- PNC sources