This week we travelled to Natawa, a village of approximately 70 people located in the Nausori Highands. The team included Bjarte (Marine Reach’s Medical Co-ordinator/nurse/truck-driver and all-round funny guy), Ben (master of Fijian village protocol), Rowena (acting dental assistant/ storyteller/evangelist) and Grace (gap year student/translator).
The quiet atmosphere in the village permeated the clinic and Dani enjoyed taking more time with patients to engage in basic health education whilst Ali took up his position in the corner and worked non-stop to attend to all the toothaches. He counted 75 extractions in one and a half days as well as a number of fillings!
Dani and Ane (Bjarte’s wife/fellow Medical Co-ordinator/GP and multi-talented mother of 4) also visited Lautoka Hospital this week, meeting with the senior matron and Subdivisional Medical Officer. We are hoping to strengthen links between Marine Reach and the existing health system in order to improve patient follow-up and help ease the mistrust that many Fijians have of the government health services which prevents them seeking help early.
Reading some stats on Fiji this week matched with the things we have seen. The situation away from the fancy tourist resorts:
- 31% of people live below the basic needs poverty line
- High rates of adult morbidity and mortality, only 16% live more than 50 years of age
- Political instability has led to poor economic growth, with overall standard of living declining.
- Improvements in maternal and child health have stagnated and the country is a long way off meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
There’s much to do here.
Today we will be attending our first lovo – a social event that involves a traditional way of slow-cooking food over heated stones in holes in the ground. The occasion is a big farewell to a wonderful couple who has served Marine Reach in Fiji for 7 years and has touched many lives with their wisdom and counselling gifts. It’s so inspiring for us to be surrounded by faithful people who dream big dreams and are truly making a difference to this nation.