ABOUT 1700 villagers in the interior of Ra have access to proper health services with the opening of the Nasavu Health Centre last week.
Officially opened by the Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki, villagers said the days of long and expensive travel to Rakiraki Hospital were over.
Sixty-year-old Pita Mataka said for years the health service issue was one of the biggest challenges faced by villagers.
Mr Mataka said he was thankful to the government for answering their prayers.
"From childhood I witnessed our people's struggle and anxieties when someone got sick and the struggle and difficulties they endured trying to take the sick to the nearest health centre which is Rakiraki and Nanukuloa," said Mr Mataka,
"This health centre will be of great assistance to my fellow villagers likewise for the surrounding villages and settlements.
Mr Mataka said villagers paid $150 to $200 on vehicle hire to transport the sick to the hospital. "That's a lot of money and it brings such relief to our people that they won't have to suffer financially or put themselves in debt when someone gets sick."
The centre will service Nasavu, Raravou, Naqelecibi, Nabalesere, Nailuva, Nauria and Nasukamai villages and also 11 settlements in the surrounding areas.
Cdr Cawaki urged the villagers to make use of the facility as well as look after the welfare and safety of the nurse deployed to the new station.
"We have come across cases in some remote areas where government officials have been victimised and physically abused by villagers and I am urging you to look after your new nurse," he said.