Suva, Fiji – The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a new partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) to strengthen public health communications and community engagement in Fiji, with an emphasis on risk communications and community engagement for pandemics and other disease outbreaks and emergencies.
Following a MOU signing today, USAID handed over media supplies and through its Breakthrough ACTION project, implemented by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Program, will provide technical assistance to the Ministry’s communications team to bolster their efforts in keeping Fijians up to date with critical health related information.
Through coaching and in-person training on developing and implementing communications plans and campaigns, and upgrading of the Ministry’s public facing website, USAID will work collaboratively to strengthen the Ministry’s capacity to provide accurate and timely information, using evidence-based social and behavior change approaches to support primary health care.
USAID/Pacific Islands Mission Director Zema Semunegus said that lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the vital role of communications to save lives by providing critical information to the public, dispelling rumors and misinformation, and galvanizing community action.
“Through this partnership, USAID seeks to assist the Ministry in strengthening their health messaging and communications capacity in order to help raise awareness among the public of specific health issues and to promote healthier behaviors.” said Ms. Semunegus.
“We are pleased to respond to the Ministry’s request for technical assistance to build the capacity of its communication team, in alignment with USAID’s growing partnership with Pacific Island Countries to strengthen health systems and health security in the Blue Pacific Continent, including Fiji” she said.
MHMS Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr. Jemesa Tudravu said “The ministry had identified for some time that risk communication is an area of need and requires strengthening. We are delighted that USAID has come on board and is willing to support the ministry through the donation of much needed risk communication equipment as well as assist in capacity building.
We are excited by this partnership and look forward to working together with USAID in the planned activities that will benefit the ministry greatly as well as our communities we serve in Fiji.”
This partnership builds on USAID’s health assistance in Fiji and across the Pacific Islands region. To date, the U.S. government, through USAID, has provided over $58 million to Pacific Islands countries, including Fiji, to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance has helped ensure the island nations’ health care systems could meet the demands of the pandemic.
Through its new Global Health Security program, USAID is investing $5 million in its first year to strengthen pandemic preparedness and response capabilities in Fiji and countries across the region.