Posted on 7 May, 2013

This post is by Melanie Windus, Project Coordinator – Fiji.

Yesterday our team was in Labassa, on the island of Vanua Levu. This island is Fiji’s second largest, and separated by distance from the other two major cities in Suva and Lautoka. It’s a separate island, but sometimes it can feel like a separate country for those involved. Travel costs are difficult for patients, let alone if they need to get to the main island.

It is in Labassa yesterday, that I was greeted by the sound of clhildren talking and laughing. This group had assembled in the clinic with their parents. This is their “chance” for surgery, to get their condition reviewed by the Australian doctors, a rare and precious annual visit by our team. It is hard to say how many will get chosen for surgery just yet, we’ll make that decision once we’ve been to all the centres in the country. I do know that some will miss out, and as a parent myself, this is a thought that is nearly always with me.

It is a pleasure to watching the screening team in action. The clinics are organised, they need to be to see so many patients in a day. Having said that 20+ children in a waiting room can get a bit cheeky. Even though they are all sick and trying to be “patient”, there is still fun and beautiful smiles from them all.

Hosting us at Labasa Hospital is Dr Mikaele Mau and Dr Jack Koraai, a husband and wife medical team. They are a dynamic duo for the North of Fiji.Fiji Doctors

I also caught up with Dr. Mau, consultant physician. He told me “It is so helpful to the patients to be seen locally as they can not always afford to travel to the main island and to Suva for treatment. It is also a great help to the hospital as the staff are given training opportunities to ask questions of the cardiologists and discuss difficult cases. Our doctors are encouraged to know that the visiting team care enough to come to them and help with the training”

Clearly this is more than just a clinic and screening trip. It is an opportunity to build relationships and share knowledge between Fijian and Australia healthcare professionals.

“Please keep coming we look forward to the OOH regular visits here in Labassa”.

It was a quick visit to Labassa, but worthwhile. We will be back.

Fiji Screening Team

Fiji waiting room

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