The Sathya Sai Medical Units of Australia and Fiji carried out its 13th annual free Medical Camp in Fiji between 12 and 16 August 2019 at Dreketi Central College and Korotari Arya Primary School in the rural areas of the Island of Vanua Levu, Fiji. A large team of health professionals and volunteers carried out a total of 1775 consultations for 1018 patients.

The Medial Camps are a valuable service to the people of Fiji living in remote areas and providing health services that many could not access or afford. The service is based upon the principles taught by Sathya Sai Baba that appropriate health service should freely be available to all people regardless of their resources and that they should be administered with loving care. A large team of professionals and support volunteers travelled to Fiji and were supported by the local Fijian Sai Medical Unit and volunteers as well as Fijian medical students.

Team members gather at Sydney airport

Supplies for the camps and surgery, ready to check in!

The team consisted of 8 Dentists, a Dental Prosthetist and a retired Endodontist (Education). The 22 doctors included a Geriatrician, a Paediatrician, a Rheumatologist, an Infectious Disease specialist, an Emergency Physician, a Dermatologist, a Gynaecologist, a Psychiatrist, a Clinical Psychologist, a Mental Health Counsellor, a Surgeon, 2 Anaesthetists, a Neurosurgeon (retired), 7 GP and a local medical officer (Fiji).

Other professionals included 2 Pharmacists, a Physiotherapist and 7 Nurses.

They were all supported by 4 medical students from Australia and 20 senior students from the Umanand Prasad School of Medicine (UPSM), Saweni, Fiji as well as 15 general volunteers.

The camps were held at the Dreketi Central College on 12 & 13 August and at Korotari Arya Primary School on 14 & 15 August 2019.
In total 1018 patients registered for the medical camps over the four days and received a total of 1775 consultations from the different disciplines.

Some of the patients awaiting Registration

Following registration and assessment, patients have their blood pressure and blood sugar level screened at the nurse’s station. After triage the patients are directed to one or more clinics depending on their needs.

During their waiting time, the education team make patients aware of the need for lifestyle changes, the importance of exercise, as well as covering such topics as diabetes, hypertension, personal hygiene, anxiety and stress management and having available segregated sessions for men’s and women’s health issues.

Several separate clinics were established to cover various needs. These consisted of a General Medical Clinic, a Physiotherapy Clinic, a Mental Health and Stress Management Clinic, a Women’s Clinic and a Dental Clinic.

A total of 78 women had consultations covering a range of women’s health issues and screenings over the 4 days of camps. A men’s’ group, comprising of about 27 attendees each day, was also facilitated by the Mental Health Counsellor, along with a male medical student.

The attending pharmacy team served 655 patients and dispensed 1247 items over the four days.

The dental team saw a total of 324 patients over the 4 days and provided a total of 508 services including routine dentistry matters such as fillings and extractions as well as denture work. They also had an oral health education program in place.

Having a follow up system in place is essential for any successful outcome for medical treatment. This was greatly facilitated by the presence of a medical officer and a referral pathway through the hospital clinics and registrars.

The 15 General volunteers were an invaluable component of the service. They were assigned to different roles including, patient registration, data recording, catering, general organising etc. With meticulous planning, organising and execution of their tasks, the general volunteers worked in the background, allowing the medical personnel to perform their services.

A separate surgical team worked at Labasa Hospital from 12 -14 August. The team saw 11 patients in a clinic and 4 on the wards. Eight operations were completed consisting of 7 laparoscopic cholecystectomies (including one with Intra operative cholangiogram) and 1 laparoscopy converted to open subtotal cholecystectomy.

An on-going activity during these medical camps has been the provision of education services to medical students and other professionals. This year it consisted of a day-long Education Workshop at Labasa Hospital held on 14 August and medical conference on Age Care at the University of Fiji held 16 August.

The teaching format of the workshop was an interactive, discussion–based teaching style. The workshop was attended by a total of 40 people including 11 final year medical students, 15 interns, 5 Registrars, 3 GPs and 5 dentists from the hospital. Various topics were presented and the education initiative was well received. CME points were approved for the participants of the workshop.

The medical conference on Age Care was designed for the local general practitioners and students. It was collaboratively organised with the Sai Medical Units of Australia and Fiji, Umanand Prasad School of Medicine and Health Sciences and The Fiji College of General Practitioners.

6 Presenters covered a number of pertinent topics related to ageing issues. The conference was well attended with 20 doctors and medical students from all years. There was some good interactive discussion on the topics.

On Thursday 15 August, Dr Waqainabete, the Fiji Minister for Health, visited the camp at Korotari Arya Primary School. He then visited all the various clinics. Dr Waqainabete was very appreciative of the services provided by the team. Going forward, he urged the organisation to consider a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health.

Feedback from those participating in the camp was very positive with several mentioning that they found the experience both rewarding and inspirational. This is particularly important as it is a service aimed at provision of health care for those in need, but also a teaching experiencing promoting a vision of doing so as a matter of course in a caring and loving way, seeing the one in all.

A complete report covering the camp in greater detail and the SSIO’s grateful appreciation of the various companies and individuals whose donations of materials and support made the service is available HERE.