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The fol­low­ing is the ad­dress by the Pres­i­dent Ma­jor Gen­eral(Ret’d) Jioji Kon­rote at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the Asia Pa­cific So­ci­ety of Pe­ri­odon­tol­ogy Col­lo­quium at GPH in Suva yes­ter­day.

Ni Bula Vi­naka, Na­maste, AsalaamAlaykum, Noa’ia‘e mauri, and a very Good Morn­ing to you all. As you may have rightly guessed, Fiji is still in the midst of cel­e­bra­tion fol­low­ing our Na­tional Seven-a-Side Rugby Men’s Golden ef­fort in Rio last Fri­day. I am im­pressed that your or­gan­is­ers have been able to get us to­gether for an early-morn­ing start to­day! Nonethe­less, I am hon­oured to join you this morn­ing and to ex­tend a very warm wel­come to all the par­tic­i­pants. The win at the Rio Olympics has in­spired unity across the land, like we have never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. Fiji as a na­tion will host one of the big­gest cel­e­bra­tions in our his­tory. A new chap­ter in our na­tional life is be­ing writ­ten.

It is my priv­i­lege to be your Chief Guest this morn­ing and I thank you for the thought­ful in­vi­ta­tion. To all the pro­fes­sion­als who have trav­elled from across the re­gion and the world, may I wel­come you on be­half of all Fi­jians.

It is heart­en­ing to note that ex­perts in the field of oral health have come from coun­tries lo­cated on ei­ther side of the equa­tor like Ger­many, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia and Hong Kong to present your ad­vances in re­search and clin­i­cal care. I am sure that you will get to en­joy the true Fi­jian hospi­tal­ity that pre­vails not only in this con­fer­ence but also in other parts of Fiji.

It is a mat­ter of pride for us that the Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity has joined hands with the Asia Pa­cific So­ci­ety of Pe­ri­odon­tol­ogy to or­gan­ise this con­fer­ence with the over­ar­ch­ing theme of “Healthy Gums For Healthy Body Sys­tems’’. This is very timely be­cause I have been told re­cently that there is a close and proven link be­tween oral health es­pe­cially pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease or gum dis­ease in lay­man’s term - and Non­Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Diseases like di­a­betes, heart at­tacks and stroke, among oth­ers.

I am also told that science is point­ing and there­fore con­firm­ing that oral dis­ease is an NCD risk fac­tor, as well as be­ing an NCD it­self. There is no doubt that the in­ci­dences of oral diseases like den­tal caries and pe­ri­odon­tal diseases, are in­creas­ing and this is re­sult­ing in not only eco­nomic loss but also di­min­ished qual­ity of life. NCDs, as we speak, present a large na­tional, eco­nomic and per­sonal toll on our peo­ple, not only in Fiji but through the Pa­cific re­gion as well. As Fiji’s cham­pion in pro­mot­ing good health and re­duc­ing NCDs, I am per­son­ally very happy to see the devel­op­ments to­wards ad­dress­ing the root causes of NCDs. I am also aware many coun­tries in our re­gion are also tak­ing a stand against NCDs. Den­tal science has come a long way with ad­vances in re­search and devel­op­ment and has a num­ber of sub­spe­cial­ties to com­pre­hen­sively com­bat diseases of the mouth.

The den­tal pro­fes­sion in Fiji in par­tic­u­lar is in a unique po­si­tion to sup­port our Na­tional NCD Pol­icy and Strat­egy by tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion

the fol­low­ing:

It is thus im­per­a­tive that con­fer­ences such as th­ese throw light on re­cent ad­vances and stim­u­late de­bate to in­crease aware­ness amongst our health pro­fes­sion­als. I am of the view that med­i­cal and den­tal prac­ti­tion­ers must take more proac­tive lead­er­ship roles to en­sure de­ci­sion mak­ers, stakeholders, partners in health and the com­mu­nity move to­wards re­duc­ing the bur­den of NCDs and infirmity.

I am con­fi­dent that the de­lib­er­a­tions in this con­fer­ence are go­ing to stim­u­late health pol­icy lead­ers and plan­ners to take a fresh look at health care needs, not only in over­all health care de­liv­ery, but also have spe­cial em­pha­sis on op­ti­mal den­tal health.

I also hope that all the den­tal pro­fes­sion­als at­tend­ing this col­lo­quium will take full ad­van­tage of this rare op­por­tu­nity to im­prove your knowl­edge and skills. You should also take this time to meet new col­leagues and form re­la­tion­ships to en­hance oral health in the re­gion.

I in­spire you all to live a healthy life­style to pro­tect you and your loved ones from the on­slaught of NCDs. As we are all aware, lead­ers will never be con­vinc­ing ad­vo­cates if they do not prac­tice what they preach.

I there­fore in­vite you all to join the Na­tion’s ef­forts in pro­mot­ing well­ness by mak­ing well­ness part of our lives. I wish to con­grat­u­late and com­mend both the Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity and the Asia Pa­cific So­ci­ety of Pe­ri­odon­tol­ogy for or­gan­is­ing this con­fer­ence. I also wish the par­tic­i­pants ev­ery suc­cess. It would be re­miss of me if I were not to in­vite you all to also join the na­tional cel­e­bra­tions on Mon­day es­pe­cially if you are able to ex­tend your stay in Fiji. Ladies and gen­tle­men, I now take great plea­sure in declar­ing your con­fer­ence of­fi­cially open.May God Bless You All.

Vi­naka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Sukria, Fai’ek­sia and Thank you.

‘It is thus im­per­a­tive that con­fer­ences such as th­ese throw light on re­cent ad­vances and stim­u­late de­bate to in­crease aware­ness amongst our health pro­fes­sion­als’

Photo: Ashna Ku­mar

Left to right: Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lor Nigel Healey, Di­rec­tor of Univer­sity Den­tal Hospi­tal at the Osaka Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Den­tistry in Ja­pan Pro­fes­sor Shinya Mu­rakami, Pres­i­dent of Fiji Ma­jor-Gen eral (Ret’d) Jioji Kon­rote and FNU Col­lege of Medicine, Nurs­ing and Health Science act­ing dean Dr Wil­liam May at the open­ing of Asia Pa­cific So­ci­ety of Pe­ri­odon­tol­ogy Col­lo­quium at GPH in Suva yes­ter­day

Ma­jorGen­eral (Ret’d) Jioji Kon­rote Pres­i­dent

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