Race to Survive hits milestone fundraising goal to support vital child healthcare in Fiji

Kiwi rugby stars and corporate teams have pulled out all the stops in a test of endurance to raise over FJD $1 million ($758,827) for life-saving child health programmes for young people in Fiji.

A total of 100 participants took part in the AccorHotels Race to Survive Fiji last week, a four-day challenge that saw them take on surprise challenges throughout Fiji to raise funds for the work Cure Kids New Zealand’s sister charity Cure Kids Fiji is doing in the country.

Competitors from Accor hotels in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji, and partner teams from House of Travel, Flight Centre, Rosie Holidays, JDE and Dark Horse, crossed the finish line at Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Friday night, with hundreds of local school children cheering them on.

Funds raised from this year’s event will go towards the work Cure Kids Fiji is achieving in preventing rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and treating pneumonia in Fiji.  Fiji has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world with the life-threatening illness affecting 1 in 50 children in Fiji.

“Rheumatic heart disease is a leading cause of death in young people in Fiji. While Cure Kids Fiji is working hard to turn these statistics around, it’s not until you see the work being done on the ground that you realise the impact being made,” says Cure Kids Fiji General Manager, Tim Edmonds.

Cure Kids Fiji, which has partnered with the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Service, and health experts in New Zealand, is also working to increase the supply and access of life-saving oxygen for Fijian children with pneumonia and newborn illnesses.

Many Fijian health centres rely on rudimentary oxygen cylinders, and this project aims to provide health centres in need with oxygen concentrators that more effectively administer oxygen. Solar-power solutions for health centres vulnerable to power shortages are also being installed.

While Race to Survive involved gruelling challenges – from hiking and kayaking to crossing rivers on rafts – contestants also helped renovate Nadarivatu Health Centre and met school kids being tested for RHD at mobile screening clinics, gaining a profound insight into life in Fiji.

Former All Blacks Sevens captain DJ Forbes and former Sevens player Tomasi Cama Junior also took part in Race to Survive and spent time with families affected by rheumatic heart disease.

“Seeing first-hand the work Cure Kids is carrying out in Fiji and the smiling faces of local children benefiting from it was a highlight for me. Given the number of children who suffer from RHD in Fiji, it was life changing to see the screening programme in action. Early diagnosis can make all the difference and ensure the right treatment can be started,” says DJ Forbes.

RHD is a preventable condition, and this national-level, research-based programme aims to build capacity across all aspects of RHD control and prevention in Fiji.  Best practice approaches used in tackling RHD in New Zealand guide the efforts in Fiji.

Children’s Heart Specialist at Starship Hospital and technical advisor to the project, Associate Professor Nigel Wilson, says there has been great headway made in the 12 years since Cure Kids Fiji has been committed to this initiative.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of community nurses in Fiji trained and available to administer prevention medication. General awareness is growing about the RHD mobile screening clinics and a significant proportion of the youth population in Fiji have gone through the testing process since we started,” says Dr Wilson.

Since launching in 2006, the biennial AccorHotels Race to Survive has seen AccorHotels and its partners raise over $3.5m FJD to support the work of Cure Kids Fiji.

AccorHotels Senior Vice President Gillian Millar says this year’s event was one of the most successful yet. “We are extremely proud of everyone who took part and are passionate about helping Cure Kids Fiji continue their life-saving work in RHD screening in Fiji.”

ENDS

For more information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Linda Shackelford, Expand PR, Cure Kids, 027 886 1760, linda@expandpr.co.nz
Katharine Broughton , PR Consultant, AccorHotels, 0275 495 277, katharine.broughton@accor.com