Posted by Dr Robyn Chirnside
Interplast, a joint Rotary, and Australasian College of Surgeons initiative begun 35 years ago, brings together teams of volunteers that have performed 26,000 operations in over 1,000 programmes across the Asia and Pacific region.
Programmes are classed as either surgical, training and mentoring, planning and evaluation or institutional support. Latterly, the key focus has turned to training and mentoring. In the 2017-18 financial year, Interplast delivered a total of 86 programmes, including to Samoa (three training and mentoring, and surgical), Tonga (three surgical), Kiribati (one nurse  education programme), and to Fiji (fifteen surgical, mentoring, planning and evaluation programmes).  The medical volunteers include plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists, theatre and ward nurses, and allied health professionals including physiotherapists, hand therapists,  occupational therapists, and speech therapists.  Often non medial observers and photographers join the clinical teams, to promote Interplast work and fund further programmes.
Rotary last year provided 23% of Interplast’s funding through direct fundraising by clubs and districts, together with contributions by the Rotary Foundation.  As an example of what can be done, Shifali Mehta, a Rotarian from District 9920 has coordinated and fundraised $30,000 for an aid trip to Tonga in May 2019. This has been eighteen months in the making, and was assisted by a Rotary International grant. District 9980 has been relatively silent over the past few years – perhaps it’s time for a change…