Like many developing countries, Fiji falls short on providing basic healthcare to all citizens. Private healthcare is available, but many citizens must use the failing public system, which is superior in urban regions compared to those in rural areas. As a result, more rural residents are faced with prevalent illnesses. Based on a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, the following are the major diseases in Fiji:
- Ischemic heart disease caused the greatest number of deaths in 2012. It killed 1,300 people and accounted for 21.8 percent of Fijian deaths.
- Diabetes mellitus was the second leading cause of death, accounting for 16 percent of deaths nationwide and killing a total of 900 Fijians.
- Stroke was third, killing 500 people, 8.3 percent of deaths.
- Other killer diseases that are less common include lower respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, kidney diseases and various cancers.
Although noncommunicable diseases cause the majority of deaths, likely due to their difficulty in treating, Fiji is still home to a number of communicable diseases. Together, these diseases accounted for approximately 18 percent of Fijian deaths in 2008. They include the following:
- The Zika virus, commonly contracted through mosquito bites, is spreading throughout Fiji, with more and more cases reported. There is no current vaccine.
- Dengue fever, also contracted through mosquito bites, has recently been declared an outbreak within Fiji. As with Zika, dengue fever does not have a current vaccine.
- Tuberculosis is widely prevalent, especially to those living in rural areas where pollution is common and medical resources are limited.
- Other common diseases include Hepatitis A and typhoid.
Through utilizing the aid provided by other nations, Fiji would benefit from taking radical measures to improve public healthcare. In doing so, these major diseases in Fiji could be limited or potentially eradicated with time, advancing the quality of life for the Fijian people.
– Gigi DeLorenzo