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FIJI’S CIKOBIA ISLAND WITHOUT MEDICAL HELP The tiny island’s only nurse is on maternity leave

By Theresa Ralogaivau SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 2, 2009) - Islanders of Cikobia are worried about how they will cope with a medical emergency because they are without a nurse.

Village elder Sanaila Cagituevei said the island had been without a nurse for the past two months since the serving nurse went on maternity leave.

[PIR editor’s note: The tiny island of Cikobia, located off the northeast coast of Vanua Levu, was badly damaged by cyclone Daman in 2007.]

Mr. Cagituevei said islanders had resorted to using herbal medicine.

"These are for illnesses that we can easily treat like fevers and common colds," Cagituevei said. "There have been more serious cases that could be aggravated by a medical condition like high blood pressure.

"Last month one of the village elders was really sick because she suffers from high blood pressure and it was a coincidence that a boat from Labasa was here at that time."

Cikobia is a six-hour boat ride from Labasa and Cagituevei said most islanders could not afford the FJ$60 [US$31] for the fuel for a one-way trip to Labasa.

"We worry when our young ones fall sick because all the medicine is locked up at the health centre," he said.

The health centre is at Vuninuku Village and serves the three other villages on the island Nautovatu, Vatulele and Nalele.

Divisional medical officer northern Dr. Samuela Korovou said they were aware of the villagers’ plight. "We have a nurse ready to go to the island and we are just waiting for a boat to take her across as soon as there is one available," Korovou said.

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