Upgrading Operating Theatres at Vaiola Hospital, Nuku’alofa, Tonga

The goal of this project is to upgrade operating theatres at Vaiola Hospital, Nuku’alofa, Tonga, to best practice standards. This will increase the expertise of surgical and nursing staff and improve surgical outcomes for the Tongan community.
Theatres proposed design

Project History

Five years ago, Dr John van Dalen, an Orthopaedic Surgeon, and a member of the Rotary club of Whanganui North, Whanganui, New Zealand began regular visits to Tonga to assist the general surgical team with complex fractures. Over the subsequent years the Orthopaedic Surgical Trauma Project was instigated with support from Rotary International and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, allowing for an improved service. A special trauma table was sourced from New Zealand which enabled surgical procedures, not previously on offer, to be undertaken from December 2022.

With the increased use of internal fixation for fractures, it became evident that the operating theatres at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, built in 2005, required upgrading to acceptable current “clean air” standards to minimize intraoperative infection. There was also a desire to be able to offer joint replacement surgery to patients with disabling arthritis of the hip and knee joints.

As a follow on from the Orthopaedic Surgical Project, this project evolved with the focus of upgrading existing operating theatres in Vaiola Hospital to best practice standards.

The advantage of upgrading an operating theatres is to achieve a low intra operative infection rate of less than 5%. As a result, more invasive surgery, such as joint replacement surgery, could be offered to the Tongan community. In addition, the local surgical and nursing staff would learn new skills with the increased range of surgery on offer.

The plan is to have the upgrade undertaken by specialist operating theatres contractors from India at competitive costs, with input from Dr Manju Basappa, Orthopaedic Surgeon in Bangalore, India as the main liaison person. It was Quantum Surgical Ltd and Dr Basappa who were instrumental in providing the equipment for the Orthopaedic Surgical Trauma project which continues to benefit the Tongan people.

Project Costs Summary

Estimated costs and timeline for the project.
Stage one - year one 2024
Materials/Labour upgrade two operating OT’s $112,500
Flights/Accommodation $22,500
Shipping $5,000
Maintenance $5,000
Contingency 10% $15,000
Subtotal $160,000
Stage two – years two and three 2025-26
Prostheses $1350 per case (15 cases) $20,000
Three team visits 2025/26 (Surgeon & two theatres nurses per visit) $37,500
Materials – cement, drapes etc $12,500
Maintenance $5,000
Contingency 10% $7,500
Admin 5% Stage one and two $12,500
Subtotal $90,000

Total Cost $250,000
For more detailed expenditure, please contact us.
Presentation about this project by John van Dalen. Orthopaedic Surgeon, Whanganui Hospital.
Operating Theatres Upgrades and Surgcial Procedures


Tongan Medical Project

Global Grant Number: GG2456392

New Zealand donations can be made to:

RNZWCS Limited (Rotary New Zealand World Community Service)

Bank account: 03-1702-0192208-01

Reference: 428

Registered Charity (CC26860) for New Zealand Tax Credits

International donations:

Rotary Club of Whanganui North

Charitable Trust (Inc)

#2 Global Grant Account

Bank account: 03 0791 0056288 000

Swift code: WPACNZ2W

Have any questions?

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