The Fijian Council of Churches says the government should seek help from economists to find a clear strategy to stop COVID-19 while supporting the economy.
The President of the Council and Head of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, made the recommendation during a meeting with the Minister of Health, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, the Dr James Fong and Chief Medical Advisor Dr Jemesa Tudravu.
He said the churches “wish to remind our civilian leaders that the economy serves human people.” “The economy doesn’t just serve the corporate sector,” he said.
The Archbishop also said Fijians were confused by the government’s mixed messages combined with vaccine misinformation – and the only way to stop the confusion was for the government to come up with a clear strategy and communicate it to the people.
He also said Dr Waqainabete should ensure that clear and consistent COVID-19 public notices are issued regularly.
“It was first ‘the virus moves when people move – stay at home’, then it is the opening of the borders to generate the economy,” said the archbishop.
“Misinformation about vaccination and the misinterpretation of the Bible and theology has exacerbated people’s confusion – people need a clear path to stop COVID-19 and build their hope and positive attitude.
“The government needs to formulate a well-documented strategy and communicate it to the people. “
The council recommended that the government launch a broad consultation and use the resources of family, vanua systems, religious communities, NGOs, ethnic communities, the business sector and foreign partners to stop COVID- 19.
“The poverty rate in Fiji is 30%, can the 70% help supply poor families in the COVID-19 red zone areas to prepare for the lockdown?
“Our strategy must be inspired by our religious and cultural values (solesolevaki), the principle of subsidiarity, the universal principle of love and the common good and the principle of the lesser evil.
“In uncertain times like this, we must not forget that God is still the creator of the world. He knows what is needed to reset the world.
Meanwhile, the ministry has called on churches to use their teachings to encourage members to get vaccinated and follow COVID-19 regulations.