As a premier tourist destination for many Australians, Fiji is full of beautiful resorts, stunning beaches and lush countryside. However for the 880,000 residents there is a large and ongoing need for Interplast Australia & New Zealand’s continued support.
Fiji remains a developing country with approximately 15% of its population living in poverty. Despite access to health care services improving, many still struggle to receive timely treatment. Health care costs are also high relative to incomes and access from outer islands is difficult. Compounding these challenges, in Fiji there is only one qualified plastic surgeon to support the entire population. Fijian surgeon, Dr Semesa Matanaicake has received extensive training from Interplast volunteers and continues to receive support from Interplast to build the plastic surgery capacity in Fiji. In small countries with so few surgeons, there is limited capacity for specialist training and building a sustainable workforce is challenging. This makes Interplast’s ongoing work vital within the Fijian community.
Sereana’s story is just one of many. Born with a a bilateral cleft lip and palate, Sereana still remains a vibrant and enthusiastic girl with her whole life ahead of her. Having to undergo several surgeries, unfortunately surgery alone does not completely treat Sereana’s condition. Her speech was also affected by her cleft lip and palate. Serana recently had her second cleft lip repair – her third operation in her short life – however, alongside Fijian medical staff, the Interplast team determined that Sereana would benefit from follow-up speech therapy to give her the best possible outcome. Had Sereana been living in Australia this follow-up care would be easily arranged, however Fiji does not have a specialist speech therapy service. Instead, local physiotherapists trained by Interplast speech pathologists have taken on this important role.
Thankfully, Sereana will benefit from the care of a Fijian physiotherapist who will provide support to assist in her speech development. Most Fijian medical professionals have received teaching and mentoring of Interplast’s allied health volunteers, helping to lead Fiji to being more independently able to provide necessary health care and services to their residents.
For Sereana, the journey to recovery will be long and challenging, however as Interplast has shown in its more than 35 years of operation, they will continue to provide support to developing countries and as many patients as they can, for as long as required. Sereana is on track to make strong recovery from surgery and continues to improve with post-operative support.
Patients such as Sereana are only able to have access to care through the generosity of Interplast supporters. All Interplast donations are tax deductable – if you’re looking for a way to make a difference in peoples’ lives, this is a great way to do it. You can also purchase Interplast dollars through the Plastic Surgery Hub shop – every single dollar goes straight to Interplast.