Masterton South Rotary and 15 other New Zealand Rotary clubs had fundraised and worked with Rarotonga Rotary to donate the bus to the Ministry of Health last year.
Rarotonga Rotary president Greg Amos said they had not been contacted about the malfunctioning air-conditioning problems. But a Taranaki Rotary member, Dr Rob Irwin, was on the island some weeks ago, and asked to check it out.
Irwin was one of those who spearheaded the bus initiative, and delivered it to Cook Islands. “We've got equipment in here that we could never have been able to supply to all the clinics,” he said.
The vehicle can be used as a command centre in case of emergency, with solar panels, batteries, VHF radios and water storage.
It also carries all the equipment needed for a huge range of community health services, including maternal and child care, immunisation programmes, work with the elderly, disabled and men's health care, a centrifuge, scales, blood glucose monitor, defibrillator and resuscitation kit, and other diagnostic equipment. It is (usually) air-conditioned and provides a clean and comfortable consultation clinic, which can be staffed by two nurses.
Rotary Rarotonga handed over the keys of the Mobile Health Clinic, Kaveinga Ora in June last year. Health services had used the bus for health drives including blood donations and cervical cancer screening.
So when Irwin was in Rarotonga last month, he stopped by to look at the bus. A Ministry of Health employee advised the team they were waiting on Raro Air Con Ltd to look at the air con unit.
Despite numerous inquiries, the Ministry of Health has failed to respond to queries about why a valuable piece of equipment is being left derelict.
Rarotonga is also down to one fully-functioning ambulance at present, due to wear and tear on its 20-year-old, past-its-use-by-date American Chevrolet ambulance.
Rotary Clubs in New Zealand have offered to give the Ministry of Health a late model second-hand Mercedes ambulance, but been told the Cook Islands government will not accept second-hand vehicles or makes that aren’t serviced here.