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Archived News: February 1998

Dengue Fever Update (25 February 1998)

As of this date Rotuma has reported 20 cases of degue fever, or a rate of 8.3% of the population (listed as 2409 persons, probably based on the 1996 census). There have been two hospital admissions.

From Reverend Jione Langi in Auckland (28 February 1998)

We are all well and so are the rest of the members of our Auckland Rotuman Fellowship (community) and the A.R. Methodist Fellowship (church). Though the word Methodist is used our ministry is not exclusive; it's for all interested Rotuman people and their friends in the greater Auckland region.

The holiday period is now over but because of the power cut in the main centre of Auckland, many of our students who attend the University and the Auckland Institute of Technology and those who work in the city have to stay home for these two weeks. The Mercury Energy people have been working very hard to supply electricity back to the city so that things can go back to normal.

Riga is well and she enjoys her work as a care giver (nurse) at Christ Hospital, for the elderly people run by the Selwyn Trust of the Anglican Church. She works part time there (4pm-9pm, Tues-Sat). Rowena is doing her second year at the A.I.T--a diploma in business studies (Toursim). Rejieli passed her finals last November. Her graduation is in April with her Bachelor in Nursing. She is now a registered nurse in NZ. Etika is enjoying his work in Sydney. He likes it out there.

As for Susau Strickland, she is facing the greatest challenge in her life. Everything went well during her induction on the 8th November, last year. The President of the Methodist Church in Fiji (Rev. Dr. Ilaitia Tuwere and Mrs Tuwere) came to take part in that special occassion. It was a history-creating event in the life of the Fijian/Rotuman Methodist people in NZ. Susau is the first woman to be accorded that high office of the church. We have had Samoan and Tongan men who were elected to both positions--President and V/President--but Susau is the first woman from the Pacific and of course from the small island of Rotuma. Her brother Mama'o Konusi and niece 'Aliti and her husband Alfred Williame came. The Auckland members of the NZRFellowship performed a hafa and a bus plus a few car loads went down to Wellington and provided the feast and the entertainment on the Saturday night. Of course our Fijian and Rotuman people in Wellington helped us to make the historic event successful. Susau is away quite often from us now attending to V/Presidential duties all over the country.

Our Auckand Rotuman Fellowship (church) had our first 'Nate ne Kaunohoga' (family donation) last Sunday (22/02) and collected $1400+. We will be running a stall at the Pasifika Festival (07/03). There will be B.B.Q plus a lot of fekei and other items to sell to raise funds for our Fellowship.

As this is our first Newsletter this year, may we as a family wish Rotumans everywhere the best for 1998. To our children, do your best in school, for those at High School or Tertiary level, make 1998 the best year yet in studies. For those who have finished with their study and are still looking for work, may you find the desire in your heart. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

From Elisapeti Inia in Suva (15 February 1998)

The 'Bulau ni Ceva' will be leaving Suva this Tuesday 17 February for Rotuma and Reverend Samuela and his wife Makereta are going to Motusa to be the fekau there because Reverend Emotama Pene has left Rotuma to go to Australia for further studies. Reverend Samuela is transferred from Lautoka to Rotuma and Reverend Irava Fatiaki takes his place. Here in Suva the Rotuman Choir of Churchward Chapel will be celebrating the 50th year soon and are busy taumaka for the occasion.

From the Fiji Times (26 January 1998)

Sylvia Joe is a well-known golfer. She is the grand-daughter of Gagaj Garagsau and Siulie of Juju and the wife of Michael Joe of Joe's Farm.

Donna Cavuilati is a cyclist and triathlete. She is the daughter of Pio and Suliana of Tuakoi.

Sportswoman of the Year runner-up Sylvia Joe (right) and Donna Cavuilati (cycling) at the awards night at the National Gymnasium

From Major-General Jioje Konrote in Lebanon (24 February 1998)

We are all breathing a very big sigh of relief as a potential conflict in the Gulf which could have plunged the whole Middle East into war had been once again averted. Whilst the UN Security Council is yet to sanction and ratify the finer details of the Annan/Hussein 'deal', I believe that all peace loving members of the global community should commend the Secretary General for exercising such tremendous tact and diplomacy in persuading the Iraqi leader to 'tow the line'. It does not pay to be a rogue state in threatening the Middle East region and perhaps the entire world community with weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein is indeed and expert in the 'art of brinkmanship'. On the other hand, the soft-spoken Kofi Annan admitted to reporters in Baghdad prior to his departure that he is a very strong beleiver in the power of prayer and asked for Divine assistance in resolving the crisis peacefully. As a peacekeeper it is so heartening to to know that diplomacy and dialogue does work (unfortunately not all the time).

We have shelved our NBC (nuclear/biological & chemical) suits and gas masks for the time being ........ until the next round?

The events of last week reminded me once again of the period preceding the 1990/91 Gulf War when I was Deputy Force Commander UNIFIL and my frantic efforts to get Sarote, Emmanuel and Andrew out of the Middle East via Paris and London before Saddam Hussein fired his first scud missile into Israel. The boys were too young then to fully understand why I had to cut short their holiday and send them home so abruptly. They are planning to come back for another visit during the first term school holidays but would like to know if Saddam Hussein is not going to spoil their holiday again?

Yesterday I flew up to Beirut to meet the US Ambassador (HE Mr Richard Jones ) and the British Ambassador (HE Mr Michael McClenan ) respectively in another round of talks and consultations about the implementation of UN Resolutions 425/426. The UN sponsored peace talks in Brussels which are scheduled for this week to kickstart the stalled Israeli/Palestinian peace process again should be helpful towards the attainment of peace in Lebanon as well. Yasser Arafat has arrived for the talks but it is yet to be confirmed whether Netanyahu would be attending.The 'exitement' of the last couple of days had certainly kept us on our toes.The life of a peacekeeper in this most volatile region is certainly not boring nor is it monotonous as each day brings with it a new challenge.

Hanisiof and God bless, Jioje.

From Major-General Jioje Konrote in Lebanon (17 February 1998)

Sarote ma kaunohoagta returned home at the end of last month to enable Emmanuel and Andrew to make it back to school on time.They certainly enjoyed their short stay with me over the festive season and it was equally sad when I had to bid them farewell on their departure. I have been following the Rotuman news on the website with great interest. In fact it is so good to be able to learn what other members of the Rotuman community are doing worldwide.

It has been about five months since I assumed command of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) and in this region where religious, cultural and ethnic conflict and violence has been endemic for centuries, the passing of each day could be described as very 'interesting' indeed.

Since its inception UNIFIL is still trying to implement United Nations Resolutions 425 & 426, adopted on the 19th March 1978 following the first Israeli Defence Force invasion of Lebanon, which mandated the Force to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from South Lebanon, restore international peace and security in its area of operation, and assist the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.

Mounting Israeli casualties over the last couple of months as a consequence of increased Islamic resistance (mainly Hezbollah--party of god) attacks against continued Israeli occupation of South Lebanon has resulted in Netanyahu's government being pressured by the opposition and a substantial section of the Israeli community to pull its forces out of the 'Lebanese quagmire'.

UNIFIL is now the biggest and perhaps the most complex and difficult peacekeeping operation worldwide and I feel very honoured and priveleged to be commanding it. There are fifteen different nations represented in the military and civilian component of the Force which has a total strength of about 5000 personnel.

To date about 230 members of the Force have been killed in the course of duty and since assuming command, I have unfortunately lost another two soldiers (a Fijian and a member of the Polish Logistic Battalion). In terms of peacekeeping, UNIFIL's casualty rate is considered unacceptable and the most difficult part of my job is keeping all personnel under my command safe and well at all times as we endeavour to keep the Israelis and the different Lebanese and Palestinian warring factions apart.

Due to the latest political, but more importantly military, developments in the Middle East (breakdown in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and now the US and Allied forces buildup in the Gulf for a possible military strike against Iraq), the overall security situation in this entire region could be assessed as very explosive. Within our own area of operations there has been no change to the status quo, the situation remains very unpredictable, extremely volatile and highly charged.

There are about 30 of our Rotuman servicemen who are presently serving on peacekeeping duties in the Middle East. The majority of our men are serving under my command with the 1st Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment and the rest are with the 2nd Battalion deployed with the Multinational Force and Observers on the Sinai - Israeli/Egyptian border). I can assure you that there are many times when we all long for the peace and tranquility of our home island of Rotuma.

Despite the dangers, risks, frustrations and other numerous problems which are normally associated with peacekeeping, everyone is in reasonably good spirits and no doubt fully committed to our thankless and most difficult task of restoring and maintaining peace in this so called 'land of milk and honey'.

Recently I have been very much involved in 'shuttle diplomacy' between the Israelis and Lebanese in our collective search for the ideal solution, which hopefully would result in a comprehensive and lasting peace for South Lebanon. It is going to be an 'uphill slog with very little light at the other end of the tunnel' but we will continue trying.

As Force Commander I have yet to lose my sense of humour, but there are times when I am more than convinced that fishing and gardening in Rotuma would have been a better option to being the 'meat in the sandwich' for continuously being caught in the crossfire.

I will try and keep you updated about our 'plight' in this part of the world and humbly request that you include this hanuju in your next update of the Rotuma news.

Please remind all the kainaga and friends to spare us a thought and remember us in your prayers. Cheerio for now and God bless. Jioje.

From Hawai'i (16 February 1998)

Nani Keanu and Tifare Sosefo

The Tefui Club of Hawai'i held a campout at Malaekahana Beach Park over the President's Day Holiday weekend. As usual, it was well-attended and we had a grand time singing, dancing, laughing and eating a lot. We had our monthly meeting at the camp and discussed plans for the upcoming wedding of Tifäre Sosefo and Nani Keanu on 11 April in Hauula, on the north shore of Oahu. Nani is Part-Hawaiian and will add to the Rotuman-Hawaiian mixture that characterizes our group. She has a son, Kamaka, age 6, who has been warmly adopted into the community.

In the weeks before the wedding the Tefui Club will hold a series of taumaka to practice for a Rotuman tautoga at the event. For other photos from the campout click on the thumbnail sketches below.

Re: the late Mr Makrava Eliesa Fesaitu, age 32 years old (11 February 1998)

Mr & Mrs Nofaga Fesaitu, Children, Grandchildren and In-laws would like to sincerely express their gratitude and appreciation to all relatives, friends in Fiji, Rotuma and abroad for their prayers, kind assistance, floral tributes and condolences during the sad loss of their beloved son, brother, uncle and in-law who was called to rest on 30th January, 1998.

Special thanks to Doctor John Fatiaki, Doctor Welby F Korwa, Doctors, Staff and Nurses of CWM Hospital, Fekau Atalifo, Fa Hua'ta Fesaitu, Hon Paul Manueli, Churchward Chapel Choir,Nadawa/Nadera MYF, Police Traffic Dept., Kaurot ne Kinoya, Atalifo's family, Hensasiga Club,Rosarina Eugene family, Tigarea family, Mojito Rejieli Mua & Miki Konrote family, Tausia Mere family, Mafhanua Clan, Isireli Luisa family, Hensasiag ne Nadi & Lautoka, Maka Elenoa family,Muaror family, Ö'hön Nonu Titatu, Sopapelu Irava family, Rigamoto Emeli family (Vatukoula), Titifanua Makereta family, Ö'hön Emeli Kauata family, Ö'hön Fonmanu Samisoni family, Marseu Kaituu family, Visoni Luisa family, Ö'hön Fauoro Akata (Nadi), Ö'hön Vamarasi Pesamino (Lautoka), Makrava Clan, Fesaitu Clan, USP Finance Dept., neighbours and all those who assisted us in generous ways.

May God Bless You All. Please accept this as our personal acknowledgement.

From Marie Dickinson in Sydney (10 February 1998)

The cable-laying ship Pacific Guardian left for Fiji last Wednesday, February 4. This was after a long stay in Sydney--since October last year. They were berthed at Darling Harbour, which is right in the city. The city skyline and harbour views served as a great backdrop for the many social activities held by the predominately Rotuman crew--New Year's Eve and Australia Day celebrations, complete with fireworks, in particular. They were due to arrive in Fiji on February 10, and after a week will sail on to Rotuma where they will stay another week.

We would like to wish the large Rotuman crew a happy reunion with their families in Fiji and on Rotuma. Last month I was honoured to be invited to a dinner onboard at which the Captain officially announced the promotion to bosun of Savea, son of Tarepea & Fot'agkaurira of Lopta.

From Dave Saunders, Ministry of Health, Fiji (1 February 1998)

To date there have been more than 6,500 clinically presenting cases of Dengue Fever. Some of these cases have shown signs of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF), a more serious form of the disease. There have been eight deaths due to suspected DHF to date, all reported from CWM hospital in Suva. The most recent death occurred in an eight year old boy on Monday, 26 January at the CWM Hospital after he had been admitted for four days. This brings the death toll to eight. There have been two additional deaths suspected as being dengue, but they are not yet unconfirmed.

Viti Levu is currently in the midst of a massive and serious Dengue Fever epidemic. CWM Hospital Medical Superintendent Mary Schramm reports that CWM has treated over 3,000 patients with suspected Dengue Fever. Hospital records show that 2,323 cases were seen between the 13th and 27th of January, with 162 admissions in the same period. Accurate outpatient data prior to the 13th January was unavailable at the time of this release, but there could have been at least 1,000 clinical cases seen prior to that date at CWM. This would indicate that at least 5,000 cases have been seen in the Central and Eastern Divisions since the outbreak began (roughly 6% of the population has been affected).

Dr. S. Veitogavi, Divisional Medical Officer Central / Eastern reports that in the rest of Central Division the following cases have been seen to date:

Number of dengue cases


To date (clinical)




Raiwaqa (since 03/01)



Valelevu (since 10/01)



Samabula (since 10/01)



Nuffield (since 10/01)



Navua Sub. (since 03/01)


no report

Rewa Sub. (since 03/01)


no report

Naitasiri Sub. (since 24/01)


no report

Tailevu Sub. (since 10/01)


no report



no report



no report



no report



no report


At least 260

* Includes only outpatients seen since 13 January. Actual number is higher.

** No facilities for admitting patients.

Dr. Veitogavi warned that school children were the latest victims of the dengue epidemic, with increasing numbers seen in area health centres since schools re-opened. Health inspectors found that many of the schools in the Division had not implemented clean-up measures, and mosquito larvae were found. He urged schools not to waste any more time in implementing clean-up measures, fearing the trend in infected school children would continue to increase.

In the past week (19 to 27 January), at least 569 clinically diagnosed cases were reported by Divisional Medical Officer Western, Dr. Yogen Narayan. All six medical subdivisions are currently affected - Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Rakiraki, Tavua and Sigatoka. There were 290 cases seen during the previous week (12 to 18 January) making 859 cases seen in the past two weeks. To date, there have been at least 1,500 cases seen in the Western Division.

In the Northern Division, there have been at least 35 clinical cases of dengue reported from Labasa Hospital to date, and 25 of those have been admitted. In addition, there have been at least two suspected cases seen at Nabouwalu Hospital.

Large scale clean-up efforts continue despite heavy rains affecting much of the country, particularly in affected areas. There have been reports of rising diarrhoea cases in children as well from around the country, with at least two deaths reported in children - an eight year old boy and a nine month old baby.

(12 February 1998 update of the dengue fever epidemic)

Here is the latest official press release on dengue fever from the Ministry of Health in Fiji.

To date there have been nearly 11,063 clinically-presenting cases of dengue fever. Some of these cases have shown signs of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), a more serious form of the disease. There have been eight deaths due to suspected DHF to date, all reported from CWM hospital in Suva. The most recent death occurred in an eight year old boy on Monday, 26 January at the CWM Hospital. Rotuma has reported 5 cases to date, all outpatients.

It appears that dengue fever cases are on the rise, and are widespread. Lautoka Hospital has noted a surge in outpatients seeking treatment for suspected dengue fever in the past few days. The epidemic can be expected to continue and worsen unless members of the public act quickly and decisively to destroy mosquito breeding sites in their areas, and in areas under their responsibility.

Dr. S. Veitogavi, Divisional Medical Officer, Central Eastern Division, warned that school children were the latest victims of the dengue epidemic, with increasing numbers seen in area health centres since schools re-opened. Health inspectors found that many of the schools in the Division had not implemented clean-up measures, and mosquito larvae were found. He urged schools not to waste any more time in implementing clean-up measures, fearing the trend in infected school children would continue to increase.

There have still been no reports of tourists or visitors to Fiji being affected through the media or through rumours, and while the epidemic appears to be widespread, it still seems to be limited mostly to areas where most visitors are unlikely to go - peri-urban areas, rural villages and settlements, school and government compounds, industrial areas and remote outer islands. Visitors are advised to take normal precautions against day-biting mosquitoes, and to avoid the above-mentioned areas. The risk for the average visitor appears to be low.

David Saunders
Ministry of Health, Fiji

(24 February update update of the dengue fever epidemic )

To date there have been at least 15,916 cases of suspected dengue fever, with 805 admissions presenting at Ministry of Health Facilities. It appears that weekly suspected case levels are declining, particularly in Viti Levu, but this is not an indication that the epidemic is over.

There is still no room for complacency - this epidemic has taught us the need for long-term vigilance. The Dengue fever problem will not go away unless the public takes the disease seriously, and makes a concerted effort to keep their living environments free of mosquito breeding sites.

Declines have occurred in case loads at CWM Hospital over the last two weeks, with less dramatic declines observed in the Western Division. The most recent death occurred on 14 February at CWM Hospital, bringing the current death toll to 10, with all victims coming from the greater Suva area.

At least 2% of Fijiís population has been affected to date (not counting those who may have sought treatment from private doctors). However, in Suva, the attack rate since the beginning of the epidemic in mid-December is nearly 7%, with an overall rate of 4.5% in the Central Division - the most heavily affected area. Attack rates are less than 1% >in the Western Division (0.64%), the Eastern Division (0.67%) and the Northern Division (0.3%). If current rates persist, and if the epidemic has in fact peaked in the most heavily affected and populated areas, then it is doubtful that overall prevalence rates will exceed 5% nationally, and 10% in the Central Division.

The case fatality rate stands at 0.6 deaths per 1000 cases, compared to a case fatality rate of 8.1 per 1000 during the 1989-1990 epidemic. This is believed largely to be due to the hard work of hospital staff to identify and manage serious cases, and with technical assistance provided by the World Health Organization. Four of the 10 deaths have been autopsied. Autopsy reports indicate that two deaths were highly compatible with a diagnosis of dengue (one tested sero-positive), while two were inconclusive.

The Eastern Division [which includes Rotuma], has a combined population of roughly 50,000. The islands so far account for a little more than 2% of the total cases reported to date, and an overall attack rate of < 1%.]

David Saunders, Ministry of Health, Fiji

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