Late Dr. Jiko Luveni honoured for Health Leadership in Fiji
‘A true daughter of Fiji’ were the words described of the Late Honourable Dr. Jiko Fatafehi Luveni by the President of Fiji H.E. Joji Konrote during the Order of Fiji’s Investiture Ceremony at the State House in Suva, Fiji. Dr. Jiko Luveni was hounoured a Special Award: Global Health Leadership Award. This was received by her husband Lieutent Colonel (Ret’d) Inoke Luveni. The President also handed over the Global Health Hero Award from the World Health Organization (WHO) which Fiji’s former Speaker of Parliament and tireless health advocate Dr Jiko Luveni, had been posthumously recognized at the 72nd World Health Assembly in May. The award recognises those who have championed the cause of health, successfully influenced political agendas, and contributed to raising awareness on health issues globally.
Dr. Luveni was a committed and passionate champion for health, social welfare and women. Her work in both health and politics made a significant impact both locally and internationally. In Fiji, she was a first for women in many avenues. She was often referred to as a ‘Women’s Champion’, who believed that women could accomplish what men could. In 1967, Dr. Luveni graduated as the first Fijian Dentist from the Fiji School of Medicine. Her passion was rooted more towards public health dentistry and programmes outside the clinic. With strong interests towards public welfare, she introduced the National Tooth Brushing Competition and conducted a nationwide dental health survey. This further boosted her dentistry career, rewarding her position at the Primary and Preventive Health Unit at the Ministry of Health headquarters. In 1988, she joined the United Nations Population Fund where she worked for 15 years as a Programme Manager serving the Pacific region. She also worked for three years at the Ministry of Health as the HIV/AIDS Project Officer before setting up the NGO, Fiji Network for People Living with HIV (FJN+) as its Executive Director. In 2008 when Dr Luveni was invited to serve as the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation. In her role as Minister, she continuously worked towards the betterment of women and established a network of more than 1,300 women groups to connect with government and receive development assistance. She declared violence free communities to enhance promotion of gender equality efforts through strengthened men-women partnership. Dr. Luveni was elected as the first female Speaker of the Parliament House in 2014.
Her work towards the HIV response always held a special place in her heart. Despite her changing roles, she was still a mentor and a motherly figure to many of the members of FJN+. The strong foundation she has left behind for people living with HIV in Fiji will forever be remembered.
UNAIDS Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific | Michela Polesana |
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