The Health on Wheels team conducted a rural outreach medical camp on the November 24, 2018, at Sote Village in rural Tailevu, Fiji Islands. The area was truly a remote location far away from any available medical services of any kind nearby. Sote village consists of approximately 180 to 200 villagers living in a mountainous region not far from Monasavu Dam which supplies electricity to a significant part of the country.
Although electricity is available, virtually no other resource is available due to the extreme remote location of the village. The road to the village had partially been washed away due to the recent heavy rainfall in the area. The bus which carried most of the passengers had to stop approximately five minutes away from the village due to landslips. Passengers had to be driven across in four-wheel drive vehicles through a narrow, single-lane cliff edge followed soon after by a single-lane bridge and through an uneven and muddy, unpaved gravel road. Furthermore, upon reaching the village, a further five-minute walk in the hot summer heat was required to the local school where the medical camp was set up. It was a difficult exercise and made everyone realise the daily difficulties that people in the region face with basic access, provisions and movement.
Venue of the Medical Outreach
The villagers were happy to see the volunteers and helped their teams carry the medical supplies in wheelbarrows. The supplies consisted of cartons of medicines, food, water and other supplies including an ambulance stretcher bed and curtains which were used to make a private patient examination area in one of the classrooms.
The following departments were then set up:
Registration – where patients were assisted by the registration team who filled out forms with all their details and registered them.
Triage – these included staff from Diabetes Fiji, Smart Labs, medical students from University of Fiji and Fiji National University and Nurses from Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Medical Centre and Korovou Hospital. All the patients were screened and basic health details were taken such as height, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, oximetry and so on. Furthermore, the more severe cases were referred to the doctors for review, whilst others who required necessary treatment in dental/eye/women’s wellness or medication from the pharmacy were sent to the respective stations.
Dental Station – four dental staff from Fiji National University were on hand to provide cleaning, fillings, extractions as necessary and provide oral hygiene advice.
Women’s Wellness Station was provided by Colonial War Memorial Hospital’s Oxfam Women’s Wellness Clinic – all women were encouraged to visit this station for cervical cancer and other SIT (sexually transmitted infection) screenings and advice. Female medical personnel from USA were also present and volunteered on this day as part of the core team.
Eye station by Pacific Eye Institute – provided free reading glasses and vision checks for patients. This was a popular station for many of the villagers had vision impairments.
General Practitioners Station – manned by senior physicians Dr. Gyneshwar Rao and Dr. Liaquat who were excellently supported by medical students who wrote medical notes and prescriptions, so that the senior physicians could focus on the patients’ health needs and determine the best treatments without becoming overburdened with paperwork. A Dietitian and Physiotherapist were also there to support the doctors for patients that required dietary and physiotherapy advice.
Pharmacy – this was manned by two pharmacists: one from Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Medical Centre and one from Valelevu Health Centre along with pharmacy students from Fiji National University. Approximately 60 prescriptions were dispensed.
In-kind Donations – clothing, shoes and other accessories were also donated by Sai Prema Foundation members and given to villagers to support them with their needs. The volunteers did not notice any supermarkets, clothing or other shops at the village.
Entertainment and Education for the Children – one of the foundation members also provided entertainment for the school children with juggling balls, magic tricks and human values education; thereby keeping the children enthralled with fun, games and good learnings.
Catering and Logistics – many volunteers supported by picking up volunteers from different parts of Suva and Nausori along the way to the camp site and also coordinating outsourced catering. The culinary team also supported with the setup of food, making tea, juice and providing morning tea and a sumptuous lunch to the hungry army of volunteers on this day.
This was one of the most remote medical outreaches ever conducted by the Health on Wheels team. Many of the patients had not seen a doctor in over Five years!
The villagers were extremely grateful for the visit and officially thanked the foundation with a Fijian Sevusevu (welcoming ceremony) with the leaders of the village and foundation. The school management was also thanked by the foundation and a large first aid kit was also donated to the school and the villagers to utilise when necessary. Certificates were also provided by the foundation to the volunteers who attended the camp as a token of gratitude and appreciation.
Overall the medical camp, despite the major challenges including the bus getting stuck in the mud and having to be towed out by a large truck, progressed well and ended well. Every volunteer played their respective role well and the coordinators were grateful for the massive support they received from everyone; with special credit to the logistics team who faced a great number of challenges, yet rose to the occasion and conquered them all!
Entertainment for the Children
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 1,200 rural patients completely free of cost to date! Apart from the volunteers who provide the crucial service, Health on Wheels is also very grateful to their many sponsors; many of whom silently support without wanting recognition, and allow them to continue to vitally function in providing free of cost bus and van service, meals, medicines, staff and other consumables and equipment. All works are conducted with the true spirit of Loving all and Serving All!
Health on Wheels by Sai Prema Foundation, Fiji – Sote District School, Rural Tailevu on November 24, 2018:
Senior Physicians Dr. Rao and Dr. Liaquat with Medical Student Support
Attending to Patients
Camp Coordinator with School Head Receiving First Aid Kit
Father with a Sick Child at the Outreach
Some of the Village Children at the Outreach