A Masterton Rotary group is on a mission to give Rarotonga a mobile medical facility to replace 27 village medical centres that service many of the island’s 13,000 people.
A refurbished Tranzit Coachlines bus will provide basic medical care for children, adults, disabled people and the elderly but also health education, blood donor services, antenatal checks and non-communicable disease awareness programmes.
The purchase and fit-out of the bus is expected to cost about $160,000 which will be paid for by Masterton South Rotary Club and other Rotary clubs from around New Zealand as well as Rotary International.
Medical equipment has also been donated by the Wairarapa District Health Board.
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The Cook Islands Ministry of Health is in the process of upgrading its services and had planned to revamp and renovate 27 village medical clinics dotted around the main island of Rarotonga.
Acting director of community health Valentino Wichman said they were very enthusiastic about the project and the boost the bus would give to their health services.
“It makes things accessible to people who might not be able to travel and will also go out to schools which are a big focus of our work now, making sure the children are prepared for the future.
“It will help cut costs but also improve the current situation, we are definitely excited about it. It will complement existing services and make a real difference.”
Masterton South Rotary Club member Rob Irwin said the club had been looking for a project when it learned the Rarotonga Rotary Club was assisting with the upgrade of the islands’ medical centres.
They decided providing a bus would solve the problem with far less cost and effort.
Irwin and club members David Baker and Paul Snelgrove went to Rarotonga in April and met with health officials and the Rotary club who were excited by the bus idea.
Snelgrove is managing director of Tranzit Coachlines and offered to provide and fit-out a bus at cost price.
Irwin said the driving force behind the project had been Baker who had really pushed things along and kept the momentum up since the project began in earnest after the visit to Rarotonga.
“”Paul has also helped by providing a bus at a really good rate which has made it an achievable goal.
“The bus when finished will help provide the island with far better medical care than they have had in the past thanks to upgraded equipment and room for another nurse on board, as well as making care more accessible.”