Fijians on remote islands of the Lau Group will now have access to medical services through the Sea Mercy Floating Health Care Clinic Program.

The Health Ministry has partnered with Sea Mercy Foundation to serve people in the rural and maritime areas for health care services with free floating clinics.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama launched the two catamarans that will form the floating hospital and also commissioned a new vessel, the MD Robyn that will service the Lomaloma medical subdivision in Lau.

Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma said people on isolated maritime islands receiving the benefit of improved care outreach program, health care and preventive program was critical.

“This was in the making for last seven years; we had an opportunity of thinking about a floating hospital however this came forward and we have two catamarans now in Northern Lau and Southern Lau,” Dr Sharma said.

This initiative is a collaborative effort of the Fijian Government and private partners such as the Sea Mercy Foundation and the Lomaloma Hospital Board of Visitors.

Minister Sharma said they plan to launch a third vessel to service the Yasawa Groups with all these ‘floating clinics’ bringing specialist nurses, doctors, dentists and eye specialist with the Ministry providing the medical materials.

“There will be lot more advocacy for health, there will be screening, treatment will be undertaken in timely manner so less emergency referrals,” he said.

“However, we cannot stop all referrals. It will see reduction in amount of complicated cases coming out from the maritime area.”

Sea Mercy Foundation founder and president, Richard Hackett said some problems cannot be tackled individually and they were working together with Government to solve the different problems in the outer islands.

The eight islands that will be serviced include Katafaga, Tuvuca, Cicia, Avea, Naitaba, Adavaci, Kanacea and Mago Island.