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Founded in 2009, the Friends4Fiji initiative is a grassroots international partnership between the medical students of Monash University in Melbourne and the rural Umanand Prasad School of Medicine (UPSM) in Fiji. The partnership aims to enhance medical education and health outcomes in Fiji and Australia by facilitating donations of learning and medical equipment, organising shared learning opportunities abroad and encouraging clinical engagement with the pressing health concerns of the Pacific region.

Friends4Fiji has donated much needed medical equipment, textbooks, anatomical models and stethoscopes. The items donated are based on requests from UPSM students and fulfil an important practical role in educating future doctors.

Since 2010, opportunities to build relations between the two countries have been forged; Australian Friends4Fiji members voluntarily attend conferences held in Fiji, run by the Sai religious organisation, whereby the Australian contingent accompany their UPSM colleagues, a doctor-led camp, to provide poor rural Fijian communities with medical care. Conversely, for the past 3 years, Friends4Fiji has successfully sponsored two students from UPSM to visit Melbourne on a study tour. UPSM students attend lectures and experience typical clinical placements with their Australian colleagues in Melbourne hospitals.

In 2015, Friends4Fiji launched a series of online modules teaching ‘critical appraisal’ skills, developed in conjunction with the Head of Evidence Based Clinical Practice teaching at Monash University. Modules are delivered via Facebook to students in both Fiji and Monash University to encourage discussion and collaboration between the student groups. There is also a repository of student-written medical notes available to the Fijian students. Additionally in 2015, Friends4Fiji held their inaugural Pacific Health Education Night at which Professor Robert Moulds, HEAL Medical Advisor, was a guest speaker.

HEAL recognises the importance of this work and provided Friends4Fiji with funding to purchase the following items:

  • Anatomy models
  • Simulation models
  • Littmann stethoscopes
  • CHIP computers
  • UpToDate access (evidence-based clinical decision support resource)
  • Research Training Modules
  • Health Promotion