Sai Neuro Team Visit to Fiji – Oct 2011

The Sai Neurological Team visited Fiji from 16 – 28 October 2011 and provided specialist medical service at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, (CWM) in Suva, Fiji.
Sai Neuro Team Visit to Fiji – Oct 2011

The Sai Neurological Team visited Fiji from 16 – 28 October 2011 and provided specialist medical service at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, (CWM) in Suva, Fiji.

The participants in the team were

  • Professor K Nadanachandran – Neurosurgeon and Team Leader
  • Dr Clifford Peady – Anaesthetist
  • Dr A Biribo Fijian Registrar at present in training in Canberra
  • Mr Robert Lyons OR Nurse

The team travelled to Suva on 16 October and returned on 28 October.

On 17 October we met up with the local team of doctors and the medical administration of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

A Paediatric clinic was held following this meeting. We saw 15 patients and further 9 children were seen during the course of the stay.

On 18 October we conducted the adult’s clinic and saw 73 patients and then further 16 patients were seen during the stay.

We commenced operating in a makeshift theatre as the refurbished theatre complex was not available till 24 October.

Neurology team after surgery with patient
Neurology team after surgery with patient

The Neuro Team carried out 13 major operations and 3 nerve blocks/ facet injections.

Dr Biribo and I (Dr Nadanachandran) participated in a session of surgical audit and a surgical tutorial. I gave a lecture to the doctors and the staff at the Suva Private Hospital on 27 Oct. having had prior approval from the Pacific Island Project office. I have been asked to repeat this in future visits as well.

There were no deaths and one patient had new deficit in the form of weakness in the arm after removal of a very large meningioma measuring 6cm x 7 cm. the operation lasted 7 hrs. This is now improving.

Dr Peady had a registrar from time to time and gave hands on training. Mr Lyons was able to instruct the 3 nurses assigned to the theatre.

We were generously supported by Medtronic Australia with 2 Midas Rex Drill on loan, drill bits, shunts and Timesh titanium plates. The Canberra Hospital provided surgical supplies antibiotics etc.

Neurologist with patient and a grateful father
Neurologist with patient and a grateful father

On 27 October a debriefing session was held with the administration followed by a lunch to the team and the local participants by the administration. Dr Waqua the medical superintendent strongly recommends 2 annual visit by the Neurosurgical Teams.

On 27 October Dr NadanaChandran of Canberra was given the opportunity to meet with Dr Neil Sharma, Minister for Health, Government of Fiji. He expressed his appreciation of the work done by the Neuro Team and PIP. We had discussions on the development of Neurosurgical services in Fiji. We noted the construction of facilities for a MRI scan machine to be installed soon. Lautoka and Lhambasa hospitals have CT scans now. We understood that it is planned to have a dedicated neurosurgical theatre and purchase of substantial neurosurgical equipment such as ultrasonic aspirator and microscope are being considered.

 Neurology team during surgery

Neurology team during surgery

The minister appreciates the training of Dr Alan Biribo (neurosurgeon) and Dr Shrish Acharya (Neurologist) at the Canberra Hospital for a further 12 months.

Dr Nadanachandran advised the minister of discussions at present for a Radiology registrar from CWM hospital to have an attachment at the Canberra Hospital for a year. He was also made aware of a plan we are drawing up to offer scholarships to nurses from Fiji at the Canberra Hospital for a period of 6 months to up-skill them. This will initially be in neurosurgical operating theatre, ICU, ward management and infection control.

Thus a comprehensive programme to establish a neurosurgical and neurological service in Fiji is being implemented. This is an initiative of the Sai Medical Unit of Australia and the Ministry of Health Fiji, assisted by The Canberra Hospital and the Ministry of Health of the Australian Capital Territory. If this training of doctors, nurses, completion of construction of theatre and provision of equipment are met the new unit could be operational from July 2013.

The Pacific Island Project and the Canberra Hospital could continue to assist in the provision of neurosurgical services in Fiji even after commencement of this service in 2013.


  • Dr. Cliff Peady. (This is his 10th visit with the team.)
  • Dr Alan Biribo
  • Mr Robert Lyons
  • CWM Hospital and Ministry of Health Fiji
  • The Canberra Hospital and ACT Health for providing medical consumables
  • Medtronic Australia
  • Pacific Island Project for medical supplies
  • Medical and Nursing staff and the administration of Colonial War Memorial Hospital of Suva, for their co-operation