Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Geelong doctor helps in Fiji

from w
Here's another example of a connection between Geelong and Fiji - a doctor who goes to Fiji to help with and train doctors there in gastroenterology..
frm Geelong Advertiser 25th.

Geelong doctor teaches gastroenterology to local physicians in Fiji

·         NICOLE MILLS    GEELONG ADVERTISER        JUNE 25, 2014 12:00AM

Gastroenterologist Dr Christopher Hair with Fijian doctors and one of the donated endoscopes from Geelong Private Hospital.
TORQUAY doctor Chris Hair keeps a photo of a woman on his desk to remind him how much positive change one person can make in the world.
The photo shows of one of his Fijian patients, a mother of three young children, who weighed just 25kg due to oesophagus scarring that prevented her from eating or drinking.
On one of his many trips to the Pacific country with the Australian and New Zealand International Training Team, of which he is a co-director, the gastroenterologist used a simple procedure to dilate the oesophagus and save her life.“It’s something we do in Australia every day but they have never been able to do it there,” Dr Hair said.“She was facing death. That was the biggest thing for me, that she got better.”
When he returned to Fiji one year later he found her weighing a healthy 54kg, back at work and finally able to look after her kids again.

Senior doctor Jioji (right) is one of the most experienced doctors, and is now teaching his learnings to the new generation, whicih includes doctors from Micronesia.
Dr Hair has been travelling to Fiji with a small team of doctors and nurses to train local staff in gastroenterology since 2008.
Gastroenterology focuses on the digestive system including the liver, pancreas and intestines. It is an area of medicine that is “stock standard” in Australia but Dr Hair said it was underutilised in Fiji and other Pacific nations.
Often local doctors who train overseas might succumb to higher wages and choose not to return home or foreign medical teams who go there to treat patients leave no skills behind when they fly out.
“It was leaving a knowledge base deficit,” Dr Hair said “This program, it stops the brain drain.”
The team is preparing to return to Fiji’s capital Suva next month for another round of training. They will take with them a goldmine of donated equipment including a colonoscope from Geelong Private Hospital. Dr Hair said the program was having real benefits for patients with many gastroenterology problems now being diagnosed and treated early, saving patients from risky surgery or death.“It’s incredible,” Dr Hair said. “You can go for four weeks and make an enormous difference for a lifetime.”

The program has been so successful that it has already expanded to the Solomon Islands and Myanmar with Vanuatu also showing interest in adopting it. Dr Hair said he was inspired by the many other professionals from the Geelong region who were working to improve health outcomes through different international aid projects.

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