EMILY NORMAN

A Tranzit bus is set to undergo a medical makeover in order to become a mobile health clinic for the people of Rarotonga.

The Masterton South Rotary project has been in the works for many months now and is hoped to take shape shortly, once funds are all lined up.

The decked-out bus will provide basic health services to the people of Rarotonga in a modern way that will supplement or replace existing clinics.

Retired doctor Rob Irwin is working with fellow Rotarians David Baker, and Paul Snelgrove to bring the project to light.

“It’s been a major project that has been occupying us for at least six months, but we’re getting there.”

He said it would be a “first” for the Cook Islands, whose health ministry had expressed the need for upgraded health clinics in Rarotonga.

“Upgrading the clinics was going to be quite a costly exercise I think, and it wouldn’t have progressed the Cook Island’s health care as much as an initiative like this.

“This helps bring them forward into the future.”

Mr Baker said the team had visited Rarotonga in April where they met with Rotary members, Cook Island Ministry of Health staff, and representatives from the Child Welfare Association.

“Health clinics in Rarotonga are badly in need of upgrading.

“When Rob looked at what the options were, he felt the modern way would be to have better-equipped health clinics, and that doing this by way of a mobile facility would have additional benefits.”

Mr Baker said the team of Rotarians had been hoping to start modifying the bus this month, “but we can’t commence anything until we have all our finances in place”.

The team are awaiting the response of an application to Rotary International’s Global Grant which matches funds on a one-to-one basis.

Clinic services would include immunisations, child assessments, health education, postnatal checks and paediatric referrals.

It would also offer rheumatic heart screening, eye and ear screening, dental inspections, and blood donor collections.

An additional benefit will be that as a self-contained facility it will be useful at time of adverse events, like natural disasters, and at events of national importance as it will have medical emergency equipment and wifi communication.

Conversion work on the bus will be undertaken in Masterton by Tranzit Coachlines as soon as funding is approved.

It is scheduled to be completed within three months of that and will be shipped to the Cook Islands in early to mid-2018.



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