A GROUP of health professionals from Sydney in Australia have given medical equipment to the Sigatoka Hospital and health stations in the Sigatoka Valley.
Tour leader Loretta Lancester Vikau, who is married to Niko Vikau of Yavulo Village, said the group was on holiday.
"We are incorporating a holiday but also as health professionals, we are visiting Sigatoka Hospital and the Loma, Naqalimare and the Keiyasi health stations," she said.
"We hope these things will make a difference to the people."
The equipment includes blood pressure machines, stethoscopes, dressing material, neck collars and boxes of aspirins.
The group consists of nurses, mainly from Sydney and the Central Coast, and a sister from Melbourne.
"This is our first tour so we've tried to keep it locally within NSW for the first tour and see if we can advertise it for nurses from all over Australia to apply for the next tour.
"The idea was to come here, visit the hospital and let these people see how the health system in Fiji operates and work out how we may be able to do an exchange of nurses from here to Australia and experience how our health system works."
During their visit to the Loma Health Center in the Sigatoka Valley, the group was taken aback by the amount of work a lone staff nurse was doing to providing health care to more than over 1000 people from six villages and farming settlements.
"That nurse in Loma Health Station with her qualification and what she has to do, back in our country she would be called a nurse practitioner which is almost a doctor because she is allowed to prescribe medication, antibiotics, she's delivering babies and looking after diabetics and she's basically on call 24."
Group member Alison Wylie said that despite the issues nursing staff face, they still manage to smile.
"Amazing people doing an amazing job," she said.
Fellow group member Margaret Purdy said they took things for granted back home.
"In Australia, we have so much and we don't realise how lucky we are until we see Fijian nurses working with virtually nothing and they do such a good job," she said.
Doctor Amos Zibran of Sigatoka Hospital said they were grateful for the kind gifts from the Australians.
"This equipment will greatly assist us in providing better services to our patients from Sigatoka Hospital and health stations up in the valley," Dr Zibran said.