This Christmas, make a Vital Difference with VSA!

Manaakitanga. He taonga rongonui, te aroha ki te tangata—Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is a joyous occasion—catching up with friends and family, and for many others, an opportunity for a summer holiday.

The reality for VSA is that our crucial work cannot take a break for the holidays. Some families would have to cancel their plans for hospital admissions, while several others may need to take extra steps to ensure they can safely take a break to see their loved ones this season.  

All we want for Christmas this year is to be able to continue spreading joy and the treasured gift of life and well-being to the VSA community, not just during the holiday season, but all year round! And what vital difference can you make this Christmas to support our Pacific community?

It's time to come together and be a part of the Volunteer Service Abroad - Te Tūao Tāwāhi (VSA) family. Our goal is to raise $25,000 to support our partner organizations as we navigate the future together. Achieving this target is no small feat, and so we request that you contribute generously, as your kind gesture is indispensable to our partners in achieving sustainable development across the Pacific. 

Marcelle’s ‘Vital’ Contribution in Tonga

Marcelle Mafi is a trained nurse for over 23 years with experience in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, working predominately in the ICU and London Emergency Department. Marcelle moved to Tonga for family reasons and here she decided to continue her nursing work.

“When I first arrived in Tonga, I found out about VSA and decided that’s the best way forward to continue my nursing career—by serving the people of Tonga”.

But Marcelle had a bigger challenge at hand. After joining the Vaiola Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Anna—the Medical Superintendent at the hospital, an external review of the maternal death situation took place. The hospital was facing a serious crisis of delayed patient care, which on several occasions contributed to their death. “I noticed that the ICU would receive patients who were too sick to do anything about and could’ve been brought to the ICU earlier but weren’t”. This crisis led to an immediate escalation pathway that led Marcelle and Dr. Anna to incorporate the Early Warning Score Charts at the hospital.

“I felt strongly that this was a good way of getting patients in Vaiola the care they needed in a reasonable time frame. It’s a simple concept, which links a value to every vital sign and the deterioration is measured by the increasing value. The key to the chart is that we were able to modify it to suit the Tongan setting. There is no Medical Emergency or Crash Team or even a paging system at the hospital and so we were able to bring the system to meet the current structure”.

This TPR (Temperature, Pulse and Respiratory) chart is widely used across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK and is revolutionary in detecting early signs of cardiac arrest.

“If we use this chart well, we can save a lot of patients by picking up the early signs of deterioration so our doctors and nurses can attend to the patients before a catastrophe occurs. The system is however expensive, and we cannot ask the Tongan Ministry to give us the money. We approached VSA and we received funding for 2 years. This funding will have a huge impact on making the system more sustainable, and we thank VSA for their support,” remarks Dr. Anna.