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New Loma Nursing Station rises above the flood plain in Sigatoka

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In January 2009 prolonged heavy rains in Fiji's Western and Northern provinces, and parts of the Central divisions, caused severe flooding. The floods caused widespread damage to farms, schools, and medical facilities.

Loma Nursing Station, on the flood plain of the Sigatoka River, was badly affected, meaning nearby communities lost vital access to health care.

In response to Fiji's call for assistance following the floods, Australia committed $1 million (F$1.7 million) towards emergency flood relief, and $1.8 million (F$3.4 million) for recovery and reconstruction.

$210,000 (F$400,000) of this funding was used to help rebuild and relocate the Loma Nursing Station.

On 4 May 2011, Acting Australian High Commissioner Judith Robinson proudly opened the new nursing station.

A significant feature of the new station is its location on higher ground, where it can be easily reached by mothers with babies and small children, even in bad weather.

The nursing station now serves around 7,000 people from Loma, Narewa, Nasovatava, Naduri, and Nakalavo. Many women now regularly visit the facility with their children for check-ups, treatment and referrals for serious medical conditions.

The nursing station also includes accommodation for nurses. This means that Sigatoka now has a permanently-staffed, safe health facility that can deliver essential health services all year round, even during the wet season.

Australia's assistance to relocate the Loma Nursing Station was part of a package of health activities during 2011 that also included a typhoid vaccination program, and radio telephones and solar panels for rural health centres, while longer-term assistance was being developed. The new Fiji bilateral health program, known as the Fiji Health Sector Support Program has since begun. This program will have a particular focus on maternal and child health, diabetes prevention and revitalising primary health care. Worth $25 million (F$46 million), it will be delivered over five years from 2011-2016.