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Health on Wheels

Free Rural Medical Outreach Project by Sai Prema Foundation

June 22, 2019 – Naitasiri Primary School, Baulevu, Fiji Islands

During the early hours of Saturday morning, the ‘Health on Wheels’ team of Sai Prema Foundation Fiji (SPF) comprising of medical professionals and ‘One Fiji Volunteers’ set out for Naitasiri Primary School, Baulevu in the Fiji Islands to conduct a free medical outreach for the rural people living in the area. This school is approximately one and a half hours drive from Suva City. 


As soon as the team arrived at the school, they were greeted by the school management and also some of the villagers who were eagerly waiting to get medical check-ups done. The team quickly set up different medical departments in the school classrooms, and then started patient registrations. Check-ups commenced soon after. 


In just a short span of five hours, over 300 patients were served! This was a new record for the foundation for the largest ‘Health on Wheels’ rural medical outreach ever! A variety of medical services were provided to the rural villagers on that day; from general practitioners, specialist physicians, pathologists and psychiatrist to care in dental, obstetrics, gynecology, dietetics and  physiotherapy, to free medicines being dispensed by the pharmacy team. A community wellness workshop was also conducted, along with women’s and men’s health advocacy and related health tests. They also had the National TB screening program team joining in from the Ministry of Health, for the first time. 


Firstly, patients were given basic health screening by the nurses and medical laboratory students. Then they were referred to appropriate health professionals for further check-up and treatment where necessary. Complex cases were also referred to the major health centre or hospital for further investigation or treatment. 


A ‘Gift of Life’ (free children’s heart surgeries) recipient of 2018, Ronav was also present at the medical camp along with his mother, Angelene. Both of them had come this time as volunteers to help and serve! It was very heartwarming to see that Ronav is now leading a normal, happy and a very healthy life after undergoing life-saving heart surgery by the visiting surgical team in 2017, as part of Sai Prema Foundation’s ‘Gift of Life’ project of free heart surgeries for children! 


The ‘Sai Annapoorna’ team served hot lunch to all the children who were present at the medical camp. Also, apples were given out to all the children who had their hearts screened by a special smart stethoscope called ‘HD Steth’. 


‘HD Steth’ is an intelligent stethoscope by prominent USA-based scientist, Arvind Thyagarajan who is also a protege of Former President of India, Late Hon. APJ Abdul Kalam. ‘HD Steth’ comes fitted with an integrated EKG, which delivers accurate and instant cardiac insights. ‘HD Steth’ leverages its patented noise cancellation and smart amplification for high fidelity auscultation and enables real-time visualisation of cardiac waveforms on a mobile screen tablet. 


Through the HD Steth, four children with irregular heartbeats were shortlisted on the day, for further comprehensive screening and diagnosis at the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Screening Centre in Nasese, Suva. The aim of this initiative is to screen as many children as possible in order to detect congenital heart disease (CHD) before it is too late. CHD is a silent killer and often remains undiagnosed, particularly in rural areas where medical centres and health professionals are few and far between. 


There are approximately 150 to 200 babies born every year with CHD in Fiji alone (approximately 1% of all babies born)! Currently, Fijians do not have a local heart surgery team that specialises in children’s heart surgery. Most parents with diagnosed children cannot afford the extremely high costs of surgery overseas. The foundation’s aim has been to address this area of great need with comprehensive, free, rural screening using HD Steth, followed by shortlisting children for a comprehensive, free HD Ultrasound/ECHO Screening and diagnosis at the Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Screening Centre. This is followed by free surgery where needed by a visiting child heart surgery team. The foundation’s aim is now going to be further enhanced by the commencement of construction of the South Pacific’s First Children’s Heart Hospital. The Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Children’s Heart Hospital will be located right next to the existing medical centre in Suva, in order to treat the children of Fiji and the South Pacific totally free of cost! 


Before the conclusion of the medical camp, the nearby community of Mandali provided afternoon tea and snacks to all the volunteers to show their gratitude and appreciation for the free medical camp at their village. 


A comprehensive first aid kit was presented to the school head-teacher by the trustees of Sai Prema Foundation, Fiji. 


Overall, it was a very busy yet rewarding medical camp for the ‘Health on Wheels’ team and its volunteers. Till date, this was the biggest camp that was done by this team in terms of volunteers, medical professionals and also by the number of patients served! 

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