2012 Medical Camp, Fiji

2012-bannerThe Australia Sai Medical Services Unit held its Medical Camp for the sixth year in Fiji, this year in the island of Viti Levu. The medical camps were held in the villages of Raki Raki, Tavua, Lautoka, Sigatoka Valley and Sigatoka town. 42 medical personnel (35 from Australia, 1 from United Kingdom and 6 from Fiji) were part of the team providing the services.
A medical seminar and workshop with the theme “Non Communicable Diseases Education and Lifestyle – A Holistic Approach” was held on the first day in collaboration with the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine of the University of Fiji and the College of General Practitioners of Fiji. The focus of this seminar was to broaden the knowledge of the medical students and the local doctors regarding the impact on the Pacific island nations’ health due to their changing life style and dietary habits. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Fiji, the Dean of the Medical School and the acting High Commissioner for Australia in Fiji addressed the gathering. The other speakers were from the local and visiting teams.

Conference at Umanand Prasad School of Medicine, University of Fiji
Conference at Umanand Prasad School of Medicine, University of Fiji

This occasion was aimed at the medical students and the local doctors. 245 delegates attended the conference. Changing lifestyles and dietary habits can help to alleviate the burden of these disease processes in the Pacific Island nations.

The Program for the seminar and workshop is available here (PDF)

You may view a video summary of the highlights of the Medical Conference below: (59 min)

38 medical students from UPSM and 2 medical students from Monash University – Friends of Fiji, travelled with the team to all the camps, which were located in remote areas of the Island. The camps commenced with multi faith prayers and with elevating thought of the day done by the medical students. 2086 patients were registered and attended to during the 5 days. Attendees at the camp were triaged to one or any three clinics at the camp. Patient education programs were held near the registration areas while they were waiting to be ushered to respective clinic after triage. At nurses station, nurses and medical students attended to blood pressure measurements, blood sugar measurements, dressings and patient education. At the general clinic they were attended by clinicians in general medicine, paediatrics, and psychology. Consultation, medical advice, education, where needed EGC and cortisone injections were administered. At dental clinics Dental surgeons, dental assistants, dental prosthetist and dental educator attended to the patients as per needs. Ophthalmologist, Opticians and assistants attended to the eye clinic attendees. Free spectacles were provided where needed. Women were attended by the gynaecologist and midwife nurses for various women’s health needs. Pap smears and breast examination were provided. Pharmacists and the assistants provided free medication and advice.

Dental examination at the Sai Medical Camp
Dental examination at the Sai Medical Camp

There was great assistance provided by the local Sai Centres, local school staff , school committees, health clinics and the Ministry of Health Fiji.

The service provided was greatly appreciated by the patients and communities. Like each year communities in the areas of camp, along with the school staff and committees get inspired to be part of this labour of love and assist the team with great enthusiasm. A number of articles appeared in the local press highlighting the work.

The camps are a wonderful vehicle to role model Sai values for medical students who have accompanied us now for the last 5 years.

The medical camps are held largely in rural localities. The rural communities in Fiji tend not to have as good access to health care and suffer an increasing level of poverty. About half of Fiji’s rural communities have no regular income.

The camps were held after discussions with the Fiji Ministry of Health who provided staff for some of the camps and also facilitated referrals and follow up care.

The Sai Medical Camps both by the Australian and NZ group are ‘looked forward to’ by the community who value the expertise, compassion and dedication of the visitors.

The camps commenced with multi faith prayers. The local Sai centres, Health Clinics and the Ministry of Health supported the medical camps and contributed to it success.

The service provided was greatly appreciated by the patients and public. A number of articles appeared in the local press highlighting the work. You may read an extract from the Fiji Sun, 26 August 2012, here

The Eye Clinic examination
The Eye Clinic examination

Camp Locations

Day1 – Vatukaloko Junior Sec School, Drauniivi – Rakiraki
Day 2 – Vasist Muni Mem School, Maqere – Tavua
Day 3 – Sathya Sai School, Drasa – Lautoka
Day 4 – Loma Indian School, Valley Road – Sigatoka
Day 5 – Tuva Indian School, Tuva – Sigatoka

The camps consisted of the following services

  1. General Medical
  2. Paediatrics
  3. Dental
  4. Ophthalmology
  5. Women’s Health
  6. Medical Education
  7. Nursing Station
  8. Triage Station
  9. Pharmacy
Total General Clinic Eye Clinic Women’s Clinic Dental Clinic
Vatukaloko Junior Sec School,
Drauniivi – Rakiraki
 410  197  197  34  102
 Day 2 Vasist Muni Mem School,
Maqere – Tavua
 493  323  232  65  81
 Day 3
Sathya Sai School,
Drasa – Lautoka
 399  244  214  67  67
 Day 4
Loma Indian School,
Valley Road – Sigatoka
 356  235  143  37  62
 Day 5 –
Tuva Indian School,
Tuva – Sigatoka
 428  285  170  66  61
 Totals  2086  1284  956  269  373

Patients queue up for the number token desk, then registration, then triage ....
Patients queue up for the number token desk, then registration, then triage ….

Procedures at Medical Camps:

1. Camp attendees first call is the Number token desk, where numbers were given to attendees who needed medical attention
2. Camp attendees were made to sit in the education areas.
3. Attendees were called for registration desk as per number
4. After registration they were directed to Triage desk managed by Doctors, nurses and students

Health Education and Awareness Program:

Patient education sessions, mostly targeting topics of concern in the Fiji populace, were generally held near registration area. The main topics were:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Healthy Eating and Lifestyle changes
  • Mental Health/Stress Management
  • Smoking and excessive consumption of kava and alcohol
  • Proper use of medication
  • Dental Health
  • Severity of Headache (Migraines, Tumour)
  • Women’s Health Issues
  • Men’s Health Issues

The sessions were given in the three main languages: English, Fijian and Hindi (Fiji-Hindi dialect). We encouraged group questions and also attended to individual queries in all the subject areas. The medical students who provided the Fijian interpretation proved to be invaluable.

The Education Unit, together with the assistance provided by the University of Fiji students, facilitated most of the training in the areas of Diabetes; Hypertension; Smoking and excessive consumption of kava and alcohol; Proper use of medication; Eating Habits and Obesity. A lot of emphasis was placed on preventative measures, healthy eating and lifestyle changes for a healthy lifestyle – the topics were well reflective of this year’s theme on non-communicable diseases.

From day 3 of the camp, information was also disseminated on scabies and its preventative measures. This was done following request by the Pharmacy team, as they noted the prevalence of this disease in the Fijian communities examined thus far.

Mental Health/Stress Management session was again presented by a Clinical Psychologist this year and it was well received. After a general overview on the topic, a number of patients were attended to privately on a one-to-one basis at all the locations.

Oral hygiene education was provided by a dental professional every day, on a one-on-one basis, as that was the more effective way of addressing the specific dental issues of individuals.

Sessions were also delivered on the severity of headaches to large audiences.

Health Education for Ladies
Health Education for Ladies

Men’s and women’s health issues were targeted at segregated audiences at all the five localities. These sessions, like last year, were very well received. Generally, the participants showed a lot of interest in the topics discussed and engaged in an interactive manner with numerous questions.

UPSM Student interviewed by Fiji Times

“Being part of the Sai MediCare camps has allowed me to realise the true beauty and nature of the medical profession,” said Leone Vuki, a third year medical student at the UPSM, who has been a part of the camps for the past three years.

“Being a medical doctor requires more than just medical care, you have to be physically and emotionally connected to the needy patients.

“It has helped me realise that being a doctor isn’t only a profession, but a calling of ‘the Almighty Lord’ to provide selfless service and comfort to those in pain and misery.

“I, like all the other medical students, eagerly look forward to the annual Sai MediCare Camps which is not only a week of learning but serving the community at large.

“As this year’s camp concludes, we are extremely grateful to the Sathya Sai Service Organisation for allowing us this unique opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals and being a part of this great service project,” said Mr Vuki.

The Pharmacy at the Sai Medical Camp
The Pharmacy at the Sai Medical Camp

Contributions from Overseas

Associate Prof Nadanachandran, a neurosurgeon and co-ordinator for the Sai Medical Unit of Australia said the service project had been a continuous success over the past six years because of the support given by Sathya Sai Organisation of Fiji, students of UPSM, University of Fiji and the Health Ministry.

He also lauded the efforts of volunteers from United Kingdom, Australia and Fiji that participated this year.

Roshika Kumar, a mid-wife and nurse in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology in Sydney and a former Fiji resident was part of the volunteer team that took part in the camp last week.

“It truly was an amazing experience to oversee the hardships and disadvantages facing women of all ages in the community,” she said.

“It was a great opportunity to be part of the team and to work among some of the best physicians, UPSM medical students and Sai volunteers and give back to Fiji.

“It has been a week of serving, teaching and learning all at once, and such opportunities are rarely available in Australia.

“I have taken the experience on-board and I am motivated to continue being a part of future Sai MediCare camps or other similar initiatives undertaken in Fiji,” said Ms Kumar.

Most patients visited more than one or two disciplines. While waiting, the patients received health education talks with appropriate translations.

The medical students despite the hardship of travel and basic accommodation assisted us physically in setting up, in decamping and interpreting. In return they benefited from both the teaching and hands on experience provided.

The Eye Clinic at work
The Eye Clinic at work


In addition to service and supplies given by our own members, the Sai Medical Unit gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance provided in one or more ways by the following:

The Sai Organisation and Sai Medical Unit of Fiji and the Sai Centres.
University of Fiji and Umanand Prasad School of Medicine -the Dean, the staff and the medical students.
Dr Neil Sharma Minister for Health Gov. of Fiji, his department, SDMO SDHS of the camp areas and Health Centres.
All the school staff and committee members of VatukalokVatukaloko Junior Sec School, Drauniivi – Rakiraki Vasist Muni Mem School, Maqere – Tavua; Sathya Sai School, Drasa – Lautoka; Loma Indian School, Valley Road – Sigatoka; Tuva Indian School, Tuva – Sigatoka;
Fiji College of General Practitioners
Air Pacific
Mr Kanti Punja of Punja and Sons Limited Fiji
Mr Harish Tappoo of Tappoos Fiji
Dr K P Singh, Medlab
Mr Viren Khetia, Kirawee Pharmacy
Anthony and Heena Geronimo
Kadar Buksh Bus company
Mr Pala, Eurocar Nandi
Digicell Fiji
Y P Reddy, Tanoa international group,
Shanghri la Resort Sigatoka
Sofitel Resort Denaru Nadi
Boehringer Ingleheim Pty Limited
Bharat and Pratibha Patel
Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals
Generic Health
Aspant Pharmaceuticals
Eastbrooke Medical centres
Star Printers Suva
Dentsply Australia
GC Dental
Henry Schein Halas
Oral B
Mr Martin Arstet of ISO Diamant Australia
Ultimate Dental Melbourne