The 9th Annual Medical Camp was conducted on the island of Vanua Levu from 16th to 20th August 2015. Fifty one (51) volunteers from Australia and eight from Fiji participated in this service of Love in Action.
A free half-day medical conference was held at the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine (UPSM) in Saweni, Lautoka. The theme this year was “Child Health”. Local and visiting members presented a number of interesting papers. The conference was well attended by medical students from UPSM and a number of local medical practitioners. The team then flew to Vanua Levu.
This year the first two days of the camp was held at Nasavusavu Secondary School near the picturesque, southern town of Savusavu in Vanua Levu. The team stayed at the Hot Springs Hotel at Savusavu. On the third day the team proceeded early in the morning to the village of Dreketi and conducted a whole day camp at Dreketi Primary School. The team then left for Labasa at approximately 7pm that evening, and stayed for two nights at various hotels in town. The last day of camp was held at Vunika Primary School near Labasa.
The medical team consisted of family practitioners, specialist physicians (an endocrinologist, geriatrician and a paediatrician), gynaecologists, eye surgeons, neurosurgeon, optometrists, psychologists, a physiotherapist, dentists, dental hygienists, a dental prosthetist and general non-medical volunteers.
17 medical students from UPMS and a mentor joined the team in Savusavu. They gave invaluable assistance and gained from the teaching and hands-on experience facilitated by the Sai Medical Unit members. A number of local organisations and individuals provided significant support and meals. We also worked closely with the local health clinics and the Ministry of Health, Fiji.
The camps commenced with a universal prayer and “thought for the day”, and concluded with devotional singing at the local temple on the last day.
A waiting area for the attendees at the camp was located near the area of registration. While waiting, preventive medical education and entertainment was provided by the team members. All the patients registered were triaged by senior doctors and ushered to various clinics. Nurses checked blood pressure, glucose where needed, performed dressing, ECGs and counselling where needed.
Services were provided at each clinic as per patient requested aid, such as consultations, medication prescriptions from the camp pharmacy, joint injections, patient education and referrals to appropriate team members or for follow-up at the local hospital. Paps smear and women’s check-ups were done at the women’s clinic. At the eye clinic appropriate spectacles were dispensed and where needed drops were given. Referrals were given for any surgical needs to local hospital. At the dental clinic extractions, fillings, denture repairs or new dentures were made. Appropriate preventive education was given to the patients.
At the Pharmacy, 1327 prescriptions were dispensed and 686 patients were counselled about appropriate medication use.
Experiences from Participants
I was very fortunate to be part of the well organised camp. Every minor detail and comfort was considered. I would have been happy with a just a basic meal of Sambar-rice, but you have provided much more, which was fantastic and very sustaining when you were feeling exhausted, especially on the 4th day. By doing whatever you are doing you are setting examples to the younger members, most of whom were very impressed and appreciative. On the fourth day, even when we were very tired, you all kept on finishing the packing, cleaning and taking inventory etc. You were amazing. I really appreciated this selfless service in action. Personally for me it was a spiritually cleansing exercise.
If you have read the 7th volume of Sathyam Sivam Sundaram (Life Story of Sathya Sai Baba) it reports what Swami says about Doctor’s service, even if we have not taken care of some major or minor detail (for the patient), He takes care of it on our behalf. With that in mind I was able to do as much as possible to make a small change in the Fijian patients’ lives, to make it easier for them to handle whatever their problem was. As time goes by I am coming to understand Swami’s explanation of service – “we serve ourselves while serving others” –“lose the ‘I’ part of the equation” and reaching the ultimate goal. Thank you for letting me start the Bhajan session on the first day. Bhajan sessions make the experience complete with continuous contemplation of the Lord.
Thank you all for making the Fiji Medical Camp such a valuable experience again. I feel it is such a privilege to work alongside people like yourselves that do this year in and year out. You leave no stone unturned to ensure everything works to the tee, starting from organising our paperwork, registration, travel, accommodation, food (including water) and equipment. It has been done impeccably. Debriefs and case discussions at the end of the day were a highlight on this trip. Many times you do not realise what is happening in other clinics when you are busy with your own workload. It was a great learning opportunity. It also allowed members to see how we worked together as a team.
The camp experience was amazing as I expected. The eye clinic in particular has a large number of patients throughout every year. It was very nice to see everyone work, laugh and play with such amazing people in the team.
My first Sai Medical Camp and I gained a lot of insight into Fijian culture and eating habits. If I had come as a tourist, I bet I would not have gained this knowledge.
I enjoyed the camp; it was so well organised and& full of love. As Uncle Nadana told, “we do make a difference to the people!” As you say, come to the eye clinic to see people’s faces light up when they can read – and of course the sunglasses, I think were so appreciated that they shook hands and said ‘God bless you!’ Seeing the children and elderly with huge problems with their eye, our referring some to hospital should make a difference in their lives. We have a great team.
Once again in this year of 2015, you and your magnificent team of dedicated specialists gave your “all” to Fiji and her people with your Sai Medical Camps. UPSM students are eternally grateful for the rich, memorable experiences they enjoyed. You organized superbly and delivered even more than expected with your thoroughness and sensitive delivery of health care, with genuine ‘giving and doing’ in every moment of the camps.
I was particularly excited and pleased by your added ‘case presentation’ formats in the evenings. This gave the students a unique opportunity to have their daily work and observations put on display for all to see, hear and appreciate. They all truly enjoyed this growth experience as it helped them gain confidence and presence in front of the Sai senior staff and their classmates as well. During the camps I heard only praises for all the staff and their dedicated delivery of health services.
In closing, I feel so honoured and ‘chosen’ in having the opportunities I’ve shared with you and the members of visiting teams, and look forward to joining again in the future for more work and joy of giving. Do take good care and give my sincerest regards to everyone there and know that you are all missed in Fiji …
Dr. Fred Merchant UPSM, HOD Basic Science
A medical camp does not happen by itself. Many people and many organisations involved in healthcare come together to make a camp happen – a free camp, run entirely by volunteers . In this wise, we acknowledge all who made this camp a reality:
Sathya Sai Service Organisation Fiji, The Ministry of Health Fiji and Vanua Levu Health Centres – hospitals, Hon Minister Rosie Akbar, The Sai Family of Vanua Levu, Charanjit Singh Group and Grand Eastern/Friendly North Hotels, Fiji Airways, Fijilink, Canvasworks for donating banners, Kannan Reddy for artwork & Finishing banners, CDP for courier, Star printing, Heman Chandra for frames, Sofitel hotels, Tanoa group of hotels, Northpole Hotel, Dalip Chand buses, Westbus Nadi, Umanand Prasad School of Medicine, University of Fiji, Harish Tappoo and Warehouse.
For Dental Supplies: GC Australia for glass ionomer restorative material (http://www.gcasia.info), Henry Schein Halas (http://henryschein.com.au) for two operator stools and discounted materials, local anaesthetics, dental materials and gloves, Iso Diamant for burs, Ivoclar Vivadent Australia (http://www.ivoclarvivadent.com.au) for composite resin restorative material and Mocom Australia (http://www.mocomaustralia.com.au) for the autoclave.
For Eye Supplies: Novartis, Alcon Australia and Allergen Australia for eye drops, K.E. Optical provided spectacle cases, Essilior Aust (NSW) provided and edged spectacle lenses, loan of equipment from Design for Vision and British Optical Instruments Pty Ltd.
General Medical and Women’s Health: Prakash Patel, Arcade Pharmacy Engadine, Viren Khetia Kirrawee Pharmacy and Eastbrooke Medical Centre Carlton.
For Pharmacy Supplies: MOH Fiji, Babasiga Pharmacy Labasa, Corum, Generic Health, Aspen Pharmacare, Pharmacor, Amneal Phramacy, Olinda Pharmacy, Bunip Pharmacy, Civic Pharmacy, Amcal Max Doncaster East Pharmacy and MedSafe Pharmacy.