Health on Wheels by Sai Prema Foundation Fiji
Waidradra District School, Navua
The Health on Wheels team conducted a free rural medical camp on the December 8, 2018 at Waidradra Village Community Hall in Navua, Fiji Islands.
Waidradra village consists of approximately 400 residents. The team was notified of the village by Mrs. Renu Snowsill, an active local community worker and volunteer. Many of the homes at the village did not have a toilet and she was assisting with other donors to procure building materials to get some toilets constructed to reduce the congestion and improve hygiene and sanitary conditions of the villagers. During her visits she had noticed the need for health services also and contacted Sai Prema Foundation Fiji (SPF) for help. After an initial visit by one of the trustees along with Renu, a medical screening initiative plan was mapped out. They were not sure of the extent of medical services that they would be allowed due to the short notice; however the local Ministry of Health team were very welcoming and encouraged them to go the extra mile in providing as many health services as possible.
Waidradra Community Hall (Signages including the blood bank bus on the day)
The following were included on that day:
Registration and Triage – conducted by staff from Diabetes Fiji, Smart Labs, medical students from Fiji National University, nurses from Navua hospital and SPF volunteers. All patients were screened and basic health details were taken such as height, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose and so on. The more severe cases were referred to the doctors for review, whilst others who required the necessary treatment whether dental and/or women’s wellness were sent to the respective stations.
Dental Station – two dental staff from Fiji National University were on hand to provide cleaning, fillings, extractions where necessary and provide oral hygiene advice.
Women’s Wellness Station by Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital’s Oxfam Women’s Wellness Clinic – All women were encouraged to visit this station for cervical cancer and other STI (sexually transmitted infection) screenings and advice.
General Practitioners (GP) – Dr. Shaddha Shilta was present along with medical student Ms. Vrunda Rathod and were later joined by Dr. Ana from Navua Hospital and Private GP Dr. Komal Ram from Navua Town.
Free Medication – graciously provided by Navua hospital for the outreach which was dispensed by the Health on Wheels Coordinator and Pharmacist, Mrs. Namrata Tappoo.
Catering and Hall Setup – Mrs. Renu Snowsill was instrumental in getting the hall set up by volunteers and providing food for the volunteer medical staff on that day.
Skin conditions such as scabies, fungal infections, boils and the like were commonly observed at the camp for both adults and children. Lack of knowledge about hygiene seemed to be present along with lack of accessibility of the same. For example, amongst six residences only one toilet was available and shared between them. Renu has been assisting the villagers with procuring building materials through donations so that more toilets can be built. Soap was given to the villagers courtesy of Punjas Ltd.
A grog culture is also present amongst the male population which unfortunately seems to be common in Fiji. Overconsumption of kava along with sweets, combined with lack of sleep, poor diet and nutrition and dehydration seems to exacerbate health and especially skin conditions such as dry skin, leading to rampant bacterial and fungal infections. A couple of males were also noted to have very high levels of blood sugar and were suspected of undiagnosed diabetes. Undiagnosed hypertension was also discovered in many of the adult members of the village.
Children seemed to have a lot of bacterial skin infections such as scabies, lice and fungal infections and so on. This could be due to poor sanitation and hygiene, living closely in large numbers in high humidity and heat, and poorly drained areas where they play.
Many volunteers who wanted to donate blood were disqualified due to low iron levels, infections, high blood pressure, being on medications or also due to fear of needles and blood. Out of 22 potential donors, nine were able to successfully donate on that day.
Villagers and volunteers were very grateful for the medical camp. Villagers are more comfortable with medical services at their local setting rather than going to the hospital. Many of the hospitals in Fiji are overburdened with cases and this has also led to patients, often not wanting to go until it is simply too late and the disease has reached an advanced state. Health on Wheels aims to bring absolutely free of cost healthcare to rural communities and assist the government with providing valuable primary health care which can potentially reduce the secondary disease burden at the hospitals. Our foundation has promised to look at the Navua region as an area of need for 2019.
Health on Wheels by Sai Prema Foundation Fiji in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to expand and have now treated over 1,500 rural patients completely free of cost to date! Apart from the volunteers who provide the crucial services on the day, they are also very grateful to their many sponsors; many of whom silently support without wanting recognition and allow the Foundation to continue to vitally function in providing free of cost bus and van service, meals, medicines, staff and other consumables and equipment. All services are provided absolutely free of cost for patients with the true spirit of Loving all and Serving All.
GP Dr Shraddha Shilta from Tamavua Hospital
GP Dr. Ana from Navua Hospital
Ministry of Health and Medical Services (Central and Navua Districts)
Mrs. Renu Snowsill
Colgate Palmolive Ltd
Taunovo Buses Ltd
Makans Drugs and Pharmaceuticals
Dr Komal Ram
Dentist Dr Vinal Harikishan
Special Acknowledgement of Volunteers:
Dr. Shraddha Shilta
Dr. Komal Ram
Fiji National University Medical Students and Dental Staff that attended the camp
CWM Hospital’s Oxfam Women’s Wellness Clinic team
Smart Labs Staff
Staff from Navua Hospital that attended the camp
Renu Snowsill – Village liaison, setup coordinator and caterer
All other Volunteers, Coordinators and Support Staff representing Sai Prema Foundation Fiji.
Dentist Trainee Sagar Sinh
Women’s Wellness (separate room for privacy)
One of the blood donors of the day
Some of the children at the camp
Youth Counselling provided by our Trustees
Health on Wheels is a key project of