16 Apr 2003

Private Vanuatu ambulance service faces closure

5:24 pm on 16 April 2003

The manager of the privately-owned Pro Med ambulance service in Vanuatu says lack of any assistance from donors or government has left them facing closure.

Darren Penny says the main benefit of operating his service is value to the community rather than profit making, but the current dire economic climate has seen Pro Med practically cash-strapped and unlikely to exist beyond the year at this rate.

Given Vanuatu's limited health infrastructure, the expatriate community in particular relies on Pro Med's 24-hour-a-day daily service.

But Mr Penny says that in the absense of external support, Pro Med is reaching the point where it can't maintain its high standard of service.

"And our options are either to reduce the level at which we operate or to pull out our investments altogether and I prefer that neither of those things happen but I would indeed shut it down before I drop our standards. We are in the business of providing a first world standard of ambulance services here, but it's just becoming a financial reality we can't continue to work at this level."

Pro Med Ambulance Service manager Darren Penny.