26 Apr 2011

Doctors in Fiji say new child welfare decree a step forward

11:31 am on 26 April 2011

Doctors in Fiji say a new decree on the health of children and mandatory reporting of child abuse is a step forward.

Cabinet endorsed the Child Welfare Decree 2010 two weeks ago, under which doctors will be required to report any suspected cases of child abuse.

The Minister of Health Dr Neil Sharma says the decree is in response to concerns by health professionals over an increase in child abuse cases seen within the health department.

A Medical superintendent at Lautoka Hospital, Dr Jemesa Tudravu, says under the decree the doctors can hold the child in hospital for 48 hours or longer if required.

"For children facing life and death situations that's critical that we are able to hold and provide the service. That's why we sort out the issues with parents those who'd like to remove the child."

Dr Jemesa Tudravu says he hopes that under the decree, child abuse cases are addressed before there is any loss of life.