NZ medical ship visits Vanuatu
: A medical ship Pacific Hope has recently been visiting the northern Vanuatu island of Malekula with a team of volunteers running primary health care, optometry and dental clinics.
A medical ship Pacific Hope has recently been visiting the northern Vanuatu island of Malekula with a team of volunteers running primary health care, optometry and dental clinics.
The Marine Reach branch of Youth With a Mission has renovated an old Japanese whaling vessel and the ship now hosts a state of the art dental clinic and can accommodate over fifty crew and clinicians.
Nearly 1,800 patients were seen over two weeks in the village of Lambubu in Malekula's northwest.
Jenny Meyer spoke with New Zealand GP and volunteer Dr Lance Ng about the mission, in a classroom temporarily converted into a primary health clinic.
LANCE NG: It's a great opportunity to, really just to reach out to under-served communities of people. I've done a bit of work in the past in Ghana and Cambodia as well and I really loved that. And even though, you know, short outreaches they're very impermanent and sometimes you quite often feel that the help you provide is fairly transient you do definitely touch lives. You can pick things up, you can treat people for a lot of short things. And so yes it's just a real blessing and a real privilege to be able to do something like this.
JENNY MEYER: We are at the last day of this series of clinics. What are some of the interesting cases that you've seen here on Malekula?
LN: Oh it's been liquorice all sorts really. I'm just flicking through these referrals now. You know you see a huge range of things from lots of possible TB cases, a couple of malaria cases, lots of weird and wonderful lumps and bumps and that kind of thing that you know typically at home people would get checked out because they've got fairly good access to health care. But because here they are living out in kind of fairly far out communities in far flung bush areas then you know they don't get things checked out for ages. And you see large fibroids, all these growths and goiters and things. So lots of variety and lots of really interesting things.
JM: Like you were saying, its just a short amount of time, do you feel like its an effective way to meet health needs in communities like this?
LN: Yeah, so we were talking about this the other day and I think using the existing infrastructure, like Norsup Hospital is about an hour's drive north on Malekula. And I think it would be a really handy thing to be able to link in with existing services and tie in a bit more closely. And that's what we're doing now on this desk is sorting out all our referrals and making sure they get re-tied in to what's actually quite reasonable existing infrastructure. It's just the access is really difficult. You know roads aren't great. If it rains there's not going to be trucks that can get through to them. So I guess what we are able to potentially do is to break down that access barrier to the existing infrastructure and actually get people seen and get people linked in to the system. So I think there is definitely value in what we do for sure.
The medical ship has also visited villages in Tanna, Epi and Ambrym and hopes to return to Vanuatu from it's Tauranga base in New Zealand regularly over the coming ten years.
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