New medical centre to help remote islanders in Fiji
Fiji's remote Yasawa islands to get new medical centre.
People living in the remote Yasawa Island group in Fiji's western division are welcoming news that a new medical centre will be built on Nacula island.
Currently the island's small run-down facility only has a doctor and nurse catering for over 3000 people.
Following a request last year to the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, the Government has announced significant improvements.
Alex Perrottet has more.
There are three nursing stations dotted around the northern islands of the group, spaced strategically so that remote villages don't have far to go. But in cases of more severe injury, a boat ride to Nacula to see the doctor is the next best thing. The village head man of Vuaki village on Matacawalevu island, Etuate Ratudradra, says even that is not so easy at times, given the waters around his village are tidal, and they often run out of fuel.
ETUATE RATUDRADRA: Sometimes we have problems with boats and fuel. Like low tide, depends on the tides going in, going out. Depends on the fuel we have because we have supply in a week or two weeks, we have supply from the mainland to our village in the Yasawa group.
On Mr Ratudradra's island, there's Nasomolevu District School, with almost 200 students. He says there's no nurse on the island and only simple medical supplies in the chief's house. The nursing station at Yaqeta is half an hour away by boat, and the medical centre on Nacula, an hour and a half away. For serious emergencies, the medical centre will call a helicopter, or the village might be able to use the seaplane from Turtle Island Resort, across the bay.
Inise Ratubalavu has three young children, but she lives on Nacula. She says she is looking forward to the improvements.
INISE RATUBALAVU: We need our health centre to be improved. Our nurse and the doctor, we also need some money to help our health centre.
Inise's children were all born in Lautoka on the mainland, as it's not safe to deliver babies in the medical centre.
There are reports the government will spend around a quarter of a million US dollars on the new centre, but Dr Aporosa Samu feels that will take time, and the current building needs urgent work.
APOROSA SAMU:The building is really old, as you can see it is really old, it needs repairs, it needs new painting. Because the building is really old itself, they were thinking of relocating to the other side, but it's a long process, it will take two to three years again.
Dr Samu says catering for over 3000 patients keeps him busy, and the new facility might allow for a better staff ratio. He says there is enough medicine, but what people really need is better and more reliable transport.
Etuate Ratudradra says his village needs a good boat with fuel, sitting out in the deep water, ready to go whenever the need arises. The construction of the new facility is set to start early next year.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: