Friday, 1 July 2016

Hospital in Fiji

I am feeling much better today after a good night's sleep and an okay morning in hospital, so i thought I would write about the differences between hospitals in the UK and Fiji.

Fiji is actually fairly similar to the UK as they have adapted our health service to meet their needs. Their training is fairly similar, studying at medical school for 6 years and then working their way up from being a junior doctor to a registrar, and eventually a consultant. The juniors have similar roles to our foundation doctors, making notes during the ward rounds and then carrying out ward work such as taking blood or doing paper work. The consultants also have the most responsibility, making the final decision about a patient's care.

However there are also some marked differences that I have noticed. The hospital that we are based in in Labasa does not have anywhere near as much technology for diagnosis as a hospital in the UK would - machines such as CT and MRI scanners are based in Suva on the other island. This means that the doctors have to rely much more on their own clinical knowledge and information such as the patient's blood pressure, breathing rate, temperature and heart rate to come to a diagnosis. Things here are perhaps a little more trial and error than at home because of this.

Even basic equipment such as tourniquets can be lacking here - I have had to use a rubber glove tied around a patient's arm to take blood from them. The equipment is also more old-fashioned than the equipment that I am used to in the UK.

I have seen some really interesting cases during my time here. Two that particularly stick out in my mind are young girls that came in because they had taken overdoses - one of petroleum and the other of methylated spirits. I guess that goes to show that mental health is just as much a problem over here as it is in Britain, but instead of paracetamol being used to overdose, it is much more common to swallow a chemical in Fiji. It is much harder to buy ethanol here because of this. Other diseases such as dengue fever and TB are much more common in Fiji compared to Britain.

There are also lots of diseases that are just as prevalent in the UK; I have seen lots of diabetes, heart attacks and asthma. These are managed very similarly to how they would be at home, except patients seem to stay in hospital for much longer here, and are not mobilised as quickly. Some patients I have met have been in hospital for over 2 weeks - this would be fairly unusual in Britain, probably due to the shortage of beds.

During my time in hospital I have been following the doctors around on ward rounds and taking blood when it was needed. This weekend we are moving on to a little island called Taveuni which I am really looking forward to! I think I will have loads more photos to show you of what Fiji is typically imagined to be like - white sand, blue sky, and crystal clear water.

Hannah x

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