The World Scabies Program  recently held its first National Steering Committee meeting at the Fiji Centre for Disease Control. This meeting signalled the launch of the World Scabies Program in Fiji by bringing together senior health and government representatives with staff from Melbourne via video conference.

The World Scabies Program (WSP), headed by Professor Andrew Steer, is a partnership between the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute with funding from the Macquarie Group Foundation. 

Fiji will be one of the first countries in the world to roll out a nationwide scabies elimination program and will be a model for other countries. Approximately one in every five Fijians is at risk of having scabies at any given time, with children at a higher risk. The intense itch and scratching caused by the scabies mites can break the skin, leading to infections and potentially more serious conditions such as kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease. 

This program is based on key research by MCRI, conducted in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) and the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, that has shown that scabies prevalence can be reduced by more than 90 per cent with a single community wide treatment. WSP will scale up this

approach to the whole population of Fiji, with an aim to essentially eliminate scabies as a public health problem. 

The WSP Fiji Steering Committee will ensure this program becomes established within government. The committee will provide oversight and governance for the roll out of this program and ensure its quality and effectiveness. This inaugural meeting was conducted via newly acquired video conference equipment, highlighting a new COVID-safe way of working across the Pacific region.

Watch the Fijian news story on the inaugural WSP Steering Committee meeting.