Basic healthcare training for Fiji squatter settlements
A new programme in Fiji is training people to provide basic healthcare to residents in squatter settlements.
Residents in some squatter settlements in Fiji have been receiving basic healthcare training as part of an effort to improve access for some of the country's poorest residents.
The health manager for Save the Children Fiji, which is running the project, Ashweeni Lata, says the community leaders will be the first point of contact on health issues to decide whether people need further medical attention.
Ms Lata told Jamie Tahana that for people in these settlements, healthcare is often daunting and expensive.
ASHWEENA LATA: Basically we're trying to equip the community health workers who will be the nurses' right hand people in the community - the first line of contact for them, for the Ministry of Health and communities that they are working in. These community health workers were trained on their core competencies on what their roles are, what their responsibilities are and what they're expected to do as community health workers in their communities because they are the first line of contact between their communities and the health service.
JAMIE TAHANA: So these aren't just general communities, these are some of the poorest communities where accessing healthcare is quite hard?
AL: Exactly, these are the informal communities that normally get missed out from healthcare services. So we've just found out that one of these communities, the zone nurses that are in charge of these particular areas have never visited these particular communities. So that's where we come in, to get them in contact with the health services and the Ministry of Health. These are the informal communities that we call the squatter settlements that Save The Children have been working with.
JT: And how have you gone about selecting the people from these communities to do this training?
AL: It was part of this programme I'm running, it's called the Community Child Nutrition Project, which works with these communities. So part of this was to form a linkage between the health service and the community because we have realised that there's a barrier, that there's a broken linkage between these two communities, so part of the objective was to form a linkage and that's where the community health workers came in. They are the link between the zone nurses, between the health service and the communities they are working with. Why the community health workers? Because they are people that these people will feel they have someone of their own; they feel confident to talk to them, whatever their problems are they will be confidential so it's easier to help them in that way.
JT: What kind of training are they going through? What are they learning?
AL: The first module is to teach them about the core competencies that are required of them being the health workers. So they'll learn what the community health worker is all about, what their roles are; how they go about doing their job. These are all volunteers, first of all.
JT: And I understand you had a dengue workshop today, which is a particular problem in Fiji at the moment.
AL: Yeah, well, yesterday was a big eye-opener for them, after the workshop they already had some people going and talking about dengue in their communities which was very good - I didn't believe it myself that they had already started work on that, especially with dengue being a really big endemic now in Fiji so they've already started cleaning their communities, which is a very good thing from this workshop.
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