Upcoming events:

Our next surgical training week on Tavarua is booked for September 1 – 8 in 2018. We are excited to have Professor Jesse Jupiter from Harvard to be our keynote speaker, along with other distinguished guests from different parts of the world. Details of this week will be unfolded later. 


Surgical aid and cyclone relief

Since running the last surgical training week in 2014 we have facilitated a number of acute and elective surgeries in Australia, including emergency open heart surgery, emergency trauma surgery, elective total hip replacement surgery and elective cleft lip and palate surgery (including mid face reconstruction) on patients who are friends, family or staff of the Tavarua Island team. Our experience confirms the saying that it is more blessed to give than to receive – all involved have been deeply enriched by the friendships we have made and the journeys we have been on together. We have also assisted in the Cyclone Winston disaster relief program, in conjunction with Peter Cole from SOS and Ken Barasch from SCF. Of course we still deeply appreciate our ongoing relationship with Dr Lance Hendrick from Loloma foundation. 


AHA Surgical Training week, April 19 – 26 2014

This years surgical training week was an extremely valuable exercise, offering precious teaching and mentoring to students from Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and beyond.
Each day started with a series of lectures by Professor Anthony Pohl and others, followed by EMST case scenarios. Then the group broke up into small sub groups, and each of these rotated through surgical workshop stations, based around pigs that had been freshly sacrificed and prepared for specific mock surgical procedures. Those groups included General Surgery and abdominal operations (Lead by Mr Abhay Choudhari, senior lecturer from Fiji’s FNU), EMST interventions such as cricothyroidotomy and chest tube insertion (Lead by Dr Leon Malzinskas), Tendon repairs (Lead by Prof Greg Bain), Nerve repairs (Lead by Mr Alex Obeirne), Management of head injuries (Lead by Mr Andrew Danks) and flap surgery (lead by Mr John Crock). After lunch the group were given more lectures, followed by social activities in the afternoon. Everyone met at 8pm after dinner and small groups rotated through various “stations” of discussion groups based around clinical cases that the local Island surgeons provided as teaching points. For each table the faculty paired up, so there were two teachers per discussion group. Dr Lisa Danks, a paediatritian and lecturer from Monash University, added a medical perspective to the otherwise surgical weighted topics for discussion. In addition, prerecorded lectures were presented from Mrs Rebecca Cordingly on how to write a scientific paper, and from Mr Malcolm Steel (on approach to general surgical emergencies) and Dr Chirs Lemoh (on infectious diseases) and these formed the basis for some discussion groups. Each candidate rotated through the various discussion groups, so that every student was exposed to all the teaching disciplines.

First class Surgical instruments were provided for the workshop courtesy of Mr Mark Graham from Pureplay orthopaedics, and these were gifted to the candidates at the end of the conference. Several boxes of surgical supplies were also gifted to representatives from the various island nations, and a large amount of material was divided up between Suva, Lautoka and Labasa in Fiji.

The week was documented expertly by Mr Andrew Biddington, and the lectures were recorded and it is planned that they be added to the teaching hub.


Warley Hospital theater equipment donation June 3013 

Sadly the Warley Bush Nursing Hospital  on Phillip Island, Victoria, has been closed and its estate has been finalized. The contents of the operating theatre – including a fully functional anaesthetic machine, five gastroscopes, a humidicrib, an operating table, surgical instruments and hundreds of sundries were packed into a 20′ shipping container and sent to CWMU in Suva. Our sincere appreciation goes to Peter Cole from Spirit of Sharing, Southern Cross Ceramics, Wayne McKenzie from Rotary and the McCrae family from Phillip Island who made this possible.

Andre McCrae expertly and professionally crafted storeage containers to ensure the fragile equipment was not damaged  in transit, and also arranged transport from Phillip Island to an interim storeage facility at Southern Cross Ceramics where Matt Venn and his team donated their time, efforts and use of their facilities in order to facilitate the move. They were excited to be able to help the people of the South Pacific and their efforts are grately appreciated. Peter Cole and Wayne McKenzie are both very well known both in Australia as well as internationally for their philanthropic work, and without them the freight logistics would have been unachievable.

Once again AHA would like to thank everyone who facilitated in this rather momentous donation that will be a tremendous encouragement and help to the surgical community, and their patients, in Fiji.


Aussie Health Abroad Training Conference:
Surgical Training Week 18-25 August 2012

The 2012 Vakabauta surgical training week took place in the middle of the Fijian’s academic year, which allowed surgeons from seven island nations to attend: East Timor, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands and Kiribati.


Once again the week was faciliated by Professor Eddie McCaig, who was ably assisted by Annette Chang, and 21 island surgeons attended for a week of intensive training. World class didactic teaching on a variety of topics relevant to the Island surgeons was provided by Professors/ Surgeons Tony Pohl, Greg Bain, Greg Hoy, Roger Bell, Ron Murley, Ronald Murley and John Crock,  as well as anaesthetist Lance Hendricks who talked about regional and locaal block techniques. The video material from out international panel was also used again.

To add an exciting fresh approach this year, training surgeons from Australia also joined the group, and were actively involved in the classes. Techinical workshops were a core of the week, and examination of patients, tendon repairs, flap repairs, suture techniques and fellowship level exam scenarios were all part of the proceedings.

Every evening  the consultants conducted clinical case scenarios and relaxed teaching on the restaurant deck overlooking the beautiful south pacific ocean.  This is possibly one of the most conducive environments on earth for professional development  as well as mentoring and inspiration. 

Each of the South Pacific surgeons was gifted a magnificent set of Buxton surgical instruments, with the finest German engineering, to take back to their work places. These instruments – if cared for – will last a lifetime. In addition Professor Eddie McCaig was awarded a set of surgical loupes and a headlamp for his surgical unit in Suva. The surgeons were also given a state of the art DVD produced by leading French surgeon Jean-Claude Gimberteau entitled “Inerior Architectures”. This is a truly inspirational piece of work which examines the makeup of the soft tissues in the body.



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January 2012, Medical instrument donation from Aussie Health Abroad


One of the last remaining “bush nursing hospitals” in Victoria, Australia, was forced to close its doors, leaving a large store of very useful medical consumables as well as surgical equipment – over 200 items in all . The Warley Hospital Board, from Phillip Island, very kindly donated these supplies to Aussie Health abroad, who shipped them on to Suva for use by the Fiji School of Medicine and the CWM hospital. The supplies were greatly appreciated and very timely. Our thanks go to the Warley Board for their generosity and vision.



Aussie Health Abroad Training Conference:
Principles of Upper Limb Surgery, January 8 -15th 2011

In January 2011, Aussie Health Abroad hosted its second surgical training conference- sponsoring surgeons from the Polynesian islands to learn the principles of upper limb surgery over the course of a one week program.


Held on the island of Tavarua, a perfect venue for professional networking, the conference was a great success and saw 6 faculty members running sessions on a variety of topics relating to hand and wrist surgery. Basic and advanced surgical anatomy was the foundation for the weeks learning, and the training program ‘Helping Hands: Achieving Surgical Excellence’ provided multimedia presentations that were interspersed with practical teaching and discussions overseen by the panel. Workshops in plaster application, tendon repairs, surgical technique and basic flap design gave candidates take home practical skills that will be a solid foundation for their surgical careers and have the potential to impact tens of thousands of patients throughout the South Pacific basin, greatly improving the standard of medical care offered in the islands.


edditeaching   plasterworkshop1   tendonworkshop2   bodypainting

presentationEach of the candidates were presented with a set of surgical instruments to take home and use in their surgical practices. It is hoped that these tools will be a lifelong memento of the event.

Special thanks are extended to Professor Eddie McCaig and Professor Craig Adams from Fiji for their ongoing support, and to Mr Shilandra Dass – a Fijian national with an Australian FRACS in Orthopedic Surgery who joined the faculty and who was a great encouragement to the local surgeons.

Read the full report on the 2011 Aussie Health Abroad conference.



Tavarua Island, Fiji, January 2010: Principles of Upper Limb Surgery Conference

The first Aussie Health Abroad Surgical Training Program was an enormous success, and received very positive feedback from all involved. Fifteen doctors attended from Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Soloman Islands, and participated in a week of lectures, workshops and one on one teaching in the area of upper limb surgery. Six faculty members ran the sessions – Prof. Craig Adams (Aust)), Mr Greg Hoy (Aust.), Dr Rob Medoff (USA), Dr Michael Thompson (USA), Dr Tony Sobol (Aust) and Mr John Crock (Aust). These were supplemented by multimedia presentations on upper limb surgery.

Vakabautatrainingsession.jpgSessions covered treatment of wrist fractures, flap construction, internal wrist fixation, and various other topics relating to upper limb surgery. There was also extensive anatomy training provided by Prof. Craig Adams. The sessions ran for up to  six hours of each day, and were concluded by an exam at the end of the week. On successful completion of the exam the participants were awarded a certificate, demonstrating their successful participating in the program.

Many of the attending surgeons commented that this conference was the first that they had attended of this kind, and that their practice of medicine would be considerably enhanced in this area as a result. Another outcome of the program is that the surgeons who attended built professional connections within their field. This allows cross discussion of cases (a central tenant in the practice of western medicine), and aids referrals. On going contact between the doctors has been facilitated by various means, including a Facebook group (South Pacific Surgeons), and group contact lists of emails and phone numbers. The faculty members have also made their details available and participated in the Facebook group.  We believe that this will improve the standard of medical care that is offered in this region, as doctors will more easily and efficiently get second opinions and case conference. All surgeons who attended will be provided with ongoing support, and linked into our Aussie Health Abroad Surgical Network. LeavingTavaruaconference2010

Male, Republic of Maldives, November 2009: Principles of Upper Limb Surgery Conference

Download the Report (PDF)

MaldivesSunset.JPGPhoto  Paul Obrien

Since late 2008, Mr Crock has been producing a series of multimedia-based lectures given by a number of leading international authorities on the fundamentals of upper limb surgery. The program is formed the basis of a training conference in the Maldives in November 2009, which was attended by eight Indigenous surgeons from the region. The conference recieved considerable local and national media coverage through the Maldivies National TV network.












Fiji Islands 2007:

Download the information pack for the Fiji Surgery Tour 2007