Medical Students Naina, Joe, Kati and Flora volunteer at VSHC

2017.02.24 Category: Volunteers

A Personal Reflection by Naina Singh.

We four final year medical students came from University of California, Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento, a city that has a very high density of Fijians. We were very excited to come here and learn more about the culture and background. We hope to apply all that we've learned to our own local community. Given that I am Fijian of Indian Descent, this rotation meant especially more to me.
It has been incredibly humbling and enlightening to be a part of the team these past two months. I now have an even stronger passion for working with global underserved environments. Staff members here have become friends who have become like family to me. It is a bittersweet end of the rotation, but I am looking forward to seeing what everyone does next.

As a group, we have probably seen thousands of cases these past few months of scabies, boils, infections, social issues, and non-communicable diseases. It is sadly true, 80% of Fiji's mortality is secondary to NCDs (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc... causing strokes, heart attacks, and other problems). Due to resource limitations and time constraints, medical professionals heavily rely on public health awareness, pattern recognition, and trial-and-error treatments with one-month reviews (sometimes for multiple conditions because tests are difficult to pursue). We have seen that the staff members truly are the backbone of Fiji's open access health care, but unfortunately, so many are pushed by the system to see patients within a few minutes due to high demand. Most of the time patients understand these limitations, but when I see that they don't, I really wish they could. Comparing my experiences to those of my parents, I have to say that this current generation of patients has more access to preventative resources. The public health project team, running the Collective Community Ownership of Health and Social Issues (CCOHSI) Project, attached to the clinic is a fun group; they're involved in 30 community development projects that last about 6 months and help communities become self-sufficient and health awareness advocates, if not champions. For two weeks, I tagged along with them. Every family we met opened their home to us without hesitation; that speaks volumes as to how well-known these public health workers are and how their reputation and compassion precede them.
In brief discussions, the four of us shared how we all learned a lot medically and practiced a lot clinically and procedurally, but the entire experience of soaking up Fijian medicine rekindled our spirits and passion for medicine. We loved the school outreach events and community screening/education events as well. Thank you, Viseisei Sai Health Centre, for making this such a wonderful rotation.

Group shot - VSHC.

Joe, Kati and Naina.

Shomal, Naina and Luisa.

School Outreach.