Rotary joins forces with Cure Kids Fiji to deliver more oxygen to sick children

18 September 2020

A joint project of the Rotary Club of Remuera Inc in Auckland, New Zealand and Rotary Club of Suva is set to give a huge boost to a project by Cure Kids to deliver a reliable supply of life-saving oxygen treatment to children in Fiji.

The Rotary Grant, for USD404,767, including money from the international Rotary Foundation, enables Cure Kids to install 24 additional oxygen concentrators in eight new sites, increasing the Project’s total coverage to 14 sites around Fiji.

The President of Rotary Suva, Deepak Rathod says, “The Fiji Oxygen Project is another project of the Rotary Club of Suva that supports the Ministry of Health and we are especially pleased that this project expands to the peri-urban and rural areas in Fiji.”

This grant has enabled Cure Kids to extend its partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MoHMS) to ensure a reliable supply of oxygen is available in health centres and hospitals to treat respiratory diseases.

Dr James Fong, Acting Permanent Secretary for Health & Medical Services, says this funding will especially benefit young children with severe pneumonia, and newborn babies, who often need oxygen therapy. “In Fiji, pneumonia is a major cause of death for children younger than 5 years, and oxygen treatment can reduce this toll by 35%.”

General Manager of Cure Kids Fiji, Tara Satyanand agrees. “Access to oxygen can save lives.  The project is designed to be sustainable, with the ultimate goal of reliable nation-wide supply of life-saving oxygen.  We’re proud to champion this work.”

The Fiji Oxygen Project, which began in 2016, builds on the research led by Associate Professor Stephen Howie from the University of Auckland, making emergency medical oxygen available to patients through the use of appropriate technology like oxygen concentrators. Oxygen concentrators are portable bedside machines that filter out nitrogen from ambient air to supply high-quality oxygen for treatment of respiratory diseases and offer an economic alternative to currently used oxygen cylinders, which are expensive and logistically difficult to supply.

The Fiji Oxygen Project piloted the installation of oxygen concentrators with custom-designed solar-energy systems to ensure a reliable supply of oxygen in remote locations. To-date, the project has trained more than 160 clinical and technical staff to use and maintain the concentrators, and enabled healthcare staff to treat more than 8,000 patients in six health facilities around Fiji.