Tranzit managing director Paul Snelgrove [second from left] and former president of Rotary Masterton South, Dr Rob Irwin [far right] pictured with drivers of the mobile health unit in Rarotonga last month. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

The health bus donated to Rarotonga by two well-known Wairarapa organisations has had an official hand-over, five years after the project began.

The bus, delivered to the Cook Islands Ministry of Health in June 2018, was officially signed over in early August by a Wairarapa contingent.

Tranzit Group managing director Paul Snelgrove and former president of Rotary Masterton South Dr Rob Irwin flew to the Cook Islands to check on the condition and usage of the mobile medical health unit.

Beginning in 2016, the pair were part of the project that had an old Tranzit bus refitted with specialised medical equipment. The project received financial support from Rotary Clubs and charitable trusts.

Since then, the mobile health unit had improved Rarotonga’s existing public health service with its up to date equipment.

During the Rarotongan lockdown, it was located on the tarmac at the international airport and used to screen and treat passengers displaying covid symptoms.

It still met all international flights from New Zealand, and the Cook Islands Ministry of Health had allocated budget for a full-time driver.

Snelgrove said he was thrilled to be part of the project and was pleased to hear four of the original drivers trained by Tranzit still drove the vehicle.

“While we were there, we visited the workshop and checked out the bus and found it to be in very good condition. Minor body work is required due to salt air exposure but that will be completed in stages,” he said.

“We were also told 96 per cent of the population are now covid-vaccinated putting Rarotonga in a strong position for the future.”

Irwin said the visit was constructive and was pleased the vision of the three Masterton South Rotarians – himself, Snelgrove and David Baker – was continuing to improve access to healthcare.

Rarotongan Secretary of Health Bob Williams confirmed the unit had been working well.

“It’s well utilised to support clinics around the island,” he said. “We are grateful and thankful for a bus like that.”



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