Fiji Oxygen Project

No child, no person, should die for lack of oxygen. The Fiji Oxygen Project enables sustainable access to oxygen at healthcare centres around Fiji to ensure that those who need oxygen, get it.

Since 2016, Cure Kids has worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to enable sustainable access to oxygen at healthcare centres around Fiji to manage hypoxaemia in children with pneumonia and other serious respiratory conditions.

Cure Kids has funded Associate Professor Stephen Howie, of the University of Auckland, to work with the Fiji government on the challenge of improving the availability and affordability of oxygen to treat patients in Fiji.

The Fiji Oxygen Project has introduced new technology to supply oxygen, and to deliver it to patients. For health centres with unreliable power supplies, solar power is installed to ensure that a 24/7 supply of oxygen is available for patients who need it.

The challenge of respiratory conditions for children in Fiji

Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in both adults and children, and new-born infants are also vulnerable to death through hypoxaemia (oxygen starvation). Timely treatment with oxygen reduces the risk of death by 35%.

Treatment with oxygen

Oxygen therapy is included in the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Oxygen therapy can prevent illness and death in both children and adults.

However, oxygen is expensive and can be logistically difficult to provide, particularly in Fiji where many patients in need of health care live in remote locations such as outer islands or interior highlands.

The oxygen solution

The Fiji Oxygen Project aims to improve access to oxygen throughout Fiji, using a systems approach to ensure quality of care, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.

The Fiji Oxygen Project builds on global research on oxygen provision, including that generated by Associate Professor Stephen Howie, with the aim to improve availability of oxygen and enhance detection and management of hypoxic illnesses to improve clinical care of patients.

The Project has field-tested oxygen concentrators in Fiji. These concentrators are small, portable machines which selectively filter out nitrogen from ambient air and concentrate the remaining oxygen to supply highly pure oxygen for patients. They are used with other equipment such as pulse oximeters (which enable healthcare professionals to diagnose urgent need and monitor oxygen-levels in patients) and solar arrays which enable reliable power supply. This solution is designed to be scalable and sustainable and is intended to contribute to a broader national plan for oxygen in Fiji, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all communities have access to oxygen.

The Oxygen Project team collects data so that it can measure the quality, reliability, user-friendliness, and cost-effectiveness of this system, including at health facilities with limited or no mains power.

The Fiji Oxygen Project has five objectives:

  1. Establish a team with diverse skills, experience, and relationships to deliver oxygen therapy;
  2. Procure and distribute the necessary equipment to enable oxygen therapy;
  3. Provide training programmes for staff across the health system;
  4. Gather and analyse information, including real-time data, to ensure effective management; and
  5. Provide the Fiji government with the information needed to ensure planning for the sustainable access to oxygen.

Project support

The Fiji Oxygen Project has been made possible through the generous funding of our supporters, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Rotary Club of Remuera Inc in Auckland, New Zealand and the Rotary Club of Suva. The Rotary Grant, which includes funds from the international Rotary Foundation, is enabling installation of 24 additional oxygen concentrators in eight new sites around Fiji.

Support from Australia Aid, FIJI Water Foundation’s Wonderful Giving Programme, ANZ, Armacup, Captain Cook Cruises, VOMO Island Fiji, and Ranadi Organics has also been crucial to the success of the Oxygen Project.

Because no child should die for lack of oxygen.

COVID-19 response

During three waves of COVID-19 in Fiji, the need for oxygen treatment has been more essential than ever.

In September 2021, the  New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) awarded Cure Kids NZ$4 million to coordinate efforts to supply oxygen to meet the urgent need to treat patients affected by the pandemic.

Our local team has worked closely with Fiji’s Ministry of Health & Medical Services to distribute life-saving equipment to where it is most urgently needed, and to support frontline healthcare workers with advice and training.

The people of Fiji faced a serious outbreak of the delta variant before vaccines were available, and thousands of Fijians were hospitalised with severe disease. Throughout the response to this disaster, Cure Kids helped the government to meet the immediate need for emergency oxygen.

At the same time, Cure Kids maintained the long-term goal of ensuring sustainable, cost-effective access to oxygen for children at healthcare centres around Fiji. The motto of the Oxygen Project has always been that “no child should die for lack of access to oxygen”.