Namanusa na Marama na Tui Ravitaki,
Kemuni na iVakalesilesi ni Matanitu,
Turaga kei na Marama,

Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

I am most delighted to join you all in celebrating the opening of this new nursing station.

Since our Government came into office, we have made it our goal to ensure that basic services like health care reach all of our people and communities, but especially in areas such as this, which are far from the medical infrastructure of large cities. We simply cannot build full-service hospitals in every community or on every island in Fiji, but we must make sure that all communities have access to basic health care.

All of you here today know, that is why nursing stations like this are so important. Here, you can be treated for injuries before they cause permanent damage, if left untreated. Here, expectant mothers can get the advice and care they need to give birth to healthy babies. Here, children can be vaccinated against the diseases that once preyed on our children. Here, our elders can get the care that can help them live out their lives in relative comfort and contentment. Here, we all can be educated about maintaining proper diets and healthy lifestyles that help prevent diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

Over time, my Government has sought to build up the health infrastructure and services for your community, and the opening of this new station stands as a culmination of that effort. And it is an important milestone—for the nearly 1,000 people in the tikina of Ravitaki and the Tavuki district that it will serve.

You will no longer have to travel the long and difficult road to Vunisea to seek the basic medical services to which you are entitled to.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am personally very deeply committed to improving the health of our people, and especially those living in rural areas. You have many advantages over people in the cities, because you can lead a natural and healthy lifestyle. You have easy access to root crops, fresh fruits and vegetables and sea food, and you get exercise in your daily lives. These are great advantages. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of Fijians are suffering from what are known as “lifestyle diseases,” and conditions, like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, even in their young and most productive years, when they have so much to contribute to their families and communities.
It is natural for us not to think much about our health. We take it for granted as we go about our daily lives. But good health goes much deeper than treatments and immunizations. Good health is determined by how we choose to live. The healthcare system is important, and the services the Government provides are important. But building new health facilities, training more nurses, paying doctors higher salaries or buying more ambulances are not the only ways to improve health in Fiji. The choices you make and the way you determine to live your lives and raise your children are equally important.

We make choices for ourselves, and we can encourage those around us to make healthy decisions as well. Through our actions and our advice, we can inspire our loved ones to make changes in their own lives, to make better choices about what they are eating and to live more active lifestyles. It is never too late or too early for anyone to start taking their health more seriously, and I encourage all of you to use the resources available at this new health station to make a positive difference in your lives.

No democratic government can fulfil its promise if it does not believe in the ability of the average man and woman. And I believe very deeply in what our people can do. So I urge you to take and keep control of your health. Take advantage of the facility here and the hospital at Vunisea when you need care. But also, learn what you need to do to live a long and healthy life, and commit to making good choices for yourselves and your family. And together, we will continue to build a Fiji that is healthier, stronger and happier.

I now have great pleasure in declaring the new Ravitaki Nursing Station open.

Vinaka Vakalevu.