For many Australians, Fiji is home to beautiful resorts, incredible holiday memories and an idyllic setting for travel and relaxation. For the 880,000+ residents of Fiji however there is a strong and ongoing need for Interplast Australia & New Zealand’s continued support.

Fiji remains a developing country with approximately 15% of its population living in poverty. Despite access to health care services improving, many still struggle to receive timely treatment. Health care costs are also high relative to incomes and access from outer islands is difficult. Compounding these challenges, in Fiji there is only one qualified plastic surgeon to support the entire population. Fijian surgeon, Dr Semesa Matanaicake has received extensive training from Interplast volunteers and continues to receive support from Interplast to build the plastic surgery capacity in Fiji. In small countries with so few surgeons, there is limited capacity for specialist training and building a sustainable workforce is challenging. This makes Interplast’s ongoing work vital within the Fijian community.

We need your support to ensure patients in Fiji can receive timely reconstructive surgery.

Each year dedicated Interplast volunteers join Semesa and his team to support them to deliver services to individuals who would otherwise not be able to access timely and effective plastic and reconstructive surgical and related care. Since the delivery of Interplast’s first program in Fiji in 1983, alongside our local partners, Interplast has delivered in excess of 130 programs.

There is still much more to be done and we are hoping you’ll join us in changing futures.

During our most recent visit to Suva in April 2019, long-time Interplast volunteer surgeon, Dr Frank Kimble, together with Semesa met seven-year old Sereana and her family at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

Like many children, Sereana is a vibrant girl full of enthusiasm and a passion for life. Born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, she has undergone several surgeries to deal with her condition however repair of a cleft lip and palate is often not solved by surgery alone.

Interplast volunteer Frank meets with Sereana and her mum following her recent surgery.

Sereana’s recent cleft lip repair was the second surgery performed by Frank and Semesa, and the third operation during her short life. The cleft had affected Sereana’s speech. Unless treated her condition would have long-term impact.

In Sereana’s case, a good surgical outcome is only part of her path to recovery.

Alongside Fijian medical staff, the Interplast team determined that Sereana would benefit from

follow-up speech therapy to give her the best possible outcome. Had Sereana been living in Australia this follow-up care would be easily arranged, however Fiji does not have a specialist speech therapy service. Instead, local physiotherapists trained by Interplast speech pathologists have taken on this important role.

Thankfully, Sereana will benefit from the care of Fijian physiotherapist Quresha Ali who will provide support to assist in her speech development. Like Semesa, who has benefited from mentoring by Interplast volunteers, Quresha has developed an interest in speech therapy through the teaching and mentoring of Interplast’s allied health volunteers, including Melissa Parkin.

“With help from Interplast, my work can help everyone raise their voice to be heard.” -Quresha Ali, Physiotherapist

For Sereana, the journey to recovery will be long and challenging, however as Interplast has shown in its more than 35 years of operation, we will work alongside our partners for as long as needed. Sereana is on track to make strong recovery from surgery and continues to improve with post-operative support.

Sereana’s care was only made possible by the generosity of Interplast supporters.

Together, we can repair bodies and rebuild lives. Importantly, your donation will help us change futures