A chance conversation between President-elect of the Rotary Club of Nadi, Fiji, Krupesh Patel, and then District Governor-elect Ingrid Waugh, led to the establishment of a project and ongoing relationship with the Sarada Medical Centre and Ramakrishna Mission in Fiji.
Ramakrishna Mission (RKM) is a worldwide organisation that primarily focuses on providing education and medical services to people in need. It has been in Fiji since the 1930s and, in addition to running a large school and a vocational training centre, they run the Sarada Medical Centre in Malolo near Nadi, providing free health services to the poor and needy.
With huge input from the President of Ramakrishna Mission Fiji, Swami Tadananda, a small project team from the Rotary Clubs of Parnell and Auckland Harbourside worked together with other Rotary clubs and external organisations to raise the NZ$110,000 to get a mobile medical clinic on the road in Nadi. The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services was also a key partner, providing staff for the mobile clinic.
The new Sarada Mobile Medical Services (SMMS Outreach) clinic had its first outing in February 2020 and was soon seeing upwards of 60 patients every day – the highest number being 158 in one day! After a brief hiatus during the first COVID lockdown, it was back on the road every week, providing preventative primary healthcare to more than 90,000 people in the wider Nadi area. In Fiji, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are at crisis point, responsible for 80 per cent of all deaths. The figures for NCDs like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and cataracts are frightening – three amputations of limbs a day, heart attacks becoming common when people are in their 20s and 30s, and seen as normal in their 50s.
The vehicle was sourced and fitted out in Fiji to be a customised clinic, staffed with a range of health practitioners supplied by Nadi Hospital, including a doctor, nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist, dentist and an educator. They also work with already established zone nurses and community health workers, and use technology to assist in record keeping and data analysis.
“The vehicle was sourced and fitted out in Fiji to be a customised clinic, staffed with a range of health practitioners supplied by Nadi Hospital, including a doctor, nurse, dietitian, physiotherapist, dentist and an educator.”
With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Fiji, the mission’s clinics, including the mobile clinic, provided extremely valuable services as hospitals coped with COVID patients. They not only provided preventative and treatment services, but also distributed food and other much needed items.
In 2021, the Rotary Clubs of Parnell and Harbourside again worked with Ramakrishna Mission to ship a container with medical and educational supplies. Rotary purchased the container so that it is now used as a storage facility at the clinic in Malolo.
In 2022, the clinic was off the road for three months due to COVID, but in the last nine months of the year they conducted 79 outreaches, saw 5000 patients, identified 670 new NCD cases, while also treating 560 already identified cases. Additional medical equipment provided has enabled other types of preventative and treatment services.
This clinic is helping identify at-risk patients early so they can prevent conditions worsening. Community/village health workers and zone nurses are becoming more involved, and as they upskill are becoming more effective in their communities. There is greater awareness of health issues through education and more people are attending the outreach clinics, with fewer having to go to Nadi Hospital.
Rotary and the Mission continue to stay connected, seeking further opportunities to partner.