Fiji’s national referral hospital for mental health reported a surge in outpatient visits and admissions since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Prior to the global health crisis, St Giles Hospital in Suva would typically attend to approximately 40 patients daily from 8am to 1pm, with an average of 45 monthly admissions. However, starting in 2022, the number of daily patients increased to 60, with a monthly average of 75 admissions.
Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Atonio Lalabalavu said the figures reflect the growing prevalence of mental health conditions within the community.
To address this rising demand and provide better mental health support, the ministry launched a “mental health month” campaign in September last year. Health workers across the country carried out community outreach activities, educating people on coping with stress and promoting mental well-being.
“This effort will continue, and it is now more important than ever for health workers in the country and all members of the community to be aware of, advocate for, and make positive contribution and care for our people’s mental well-being,” Dr Atonio said.
In addition, the Fijian Government approved a funding of $7,222,547.06 for the refurbishment works at Labasa Hospital which will encompass the construction of the new Stress Ward, and the refurbishment and upgrade of critical service areas of the health facility such as the General Outpatient Department, Children’s Ward, Operating Theater, and Men’s Surgical Ward.
“The upgrade is crucial as Labasa Hospital serves as the main referral urban hospital in the Northern Division which caters for three sub-divisional hospitals, 19 health centres and 21 nursing stations.”
During the construction period, Labasa Hospital has outlined a plan to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. Alternative sites, including the subdivisional hospitals at Savusavu, Nabouwalu, and Taveuni, will be utilised to accommodate patients and maintain healthcare operations.
“The communications and public awareness on this arrangements will be made before the works begin.”
The construction project will be carried out by Estate Builders Fiji Limited.