Sunday, May 9, 2021
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Vanuatu Is The First Country To Welcome VSA Volunteers In 15 Months


Staff at two of Vanuatu’s key hospitals await the
arrival of two medical staff through a programme with
Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) this month. Doctors Mandy and
Jonathan Masters depart Auckland mid-May as the first VSA
volunteers to leave New Zealand for 15 months.

The
high need for medical volunteers in Vanuatu has led to New
Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs approval for the
deployment. Stephen Goodman, Chief Executive Officer,
Volunteer Service Aboard says “This is a critical need that
can save lives in Vanuatu. Building local medical capacity
works towards a sustained professional health sector in
Vanuatu. Our VSA Programme Manager, Trevor Johnston, located
in Vanuatu, worked with local hospitals to scope the work,
and staff in Wellington matched these with the skills Mandy
and Jonathan offer. Sending this highly skilled couple into
the Pacific will have a major impact for Vanuatu’s
healthcare system.”

Dr Mandy Masters and Mr Jonathan
Masters are experienced volunteers, having previously
volunteered in Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, Nepal and various
countries in Africa through other programmes. Both have
extensive medical experience in the United Kingdom and New
Zealand, most recently in Whangarei.

Dr Mandy Masters
will be working with medical officers and nurses at Northern
Provincial Hospital’s Emergency Department which is the
main referral centre for local emergencies in the Luganville
Municipality and the Sanma province. The hospital also
receives patients from the northern provinces of Malampa,
Torba and Penama. Medical, surgical, obstetrics and
gynaecology services are provided but with emergency
medicine a new speciality in Vanuatu, no senior doctor is
based in the emergency department who is equipped to assess
and manage emergency presentations. Many of the patients
have life threatening conditions. In addition to practising
emergency medicine Mandy will train local staff in triage in
an emergency setting. She will develop protocols to
facilitate and sustain care into the
future.

Luganville is on the island of Espiritu Santo
and Mandy will live here alongside the local community
during the one-year assignment. South of Santo is Port Vila,
where Mr Jonathan Masters will be volunteering for two weeks
each month to work alongside local surgeons. The goal is to
enable core urology to be performed by local surgeons,
without the need for visiting specialists. As a volunteer Mr
Masters will use his experience in teaching to demonstrate
how to conduct outpatient assessments, and best practices in
Urology. Mr Masters will work predominately with Mr Samuel
Kemuel and Mr Trevor CUllwick in Port Vila Provincial
Hospital.

Port Vila Provincial Hospital is the main
referral hospital in Vanuatu and provides health services to
over 78,000 people. There are currently no urological
surgeons in Vanuatu and conditions are treated by visiting
New Zealand and Australian practitioners who have been
unable to visit due to COVID-19 restrictions. The goal is
for Vanuatu to be less reliant on visiting teams through
education and support by a VSA volunteer programme.

As
a VSA representative, both volunteers will be living in the
community and encouraged to integrate into local life. In
late May, they will connect with Trevor and Michelle
Johnston who live in Luganville, where Trevor works as
VSA’s Programme Manager.

Both doctors have
undertaken a three-day briefing programme in Wellington that
covers living in the Pacific as a volunteer. VSA has been
operating for 59 years as a volunteer organisation that
upskills locals to provide sustainable development across
the Pacific. During COVID-19 the volunteers were
repatriated, and development continued through online
e-volunteer assignments that have been popular with New
Zealander’s who have skills that can be transferred
through workshops and online learning. VSA also has
volunteer assignments in the Pacific with New Zealanders who
are currently living abroad.

VSA staff based in
Wellington are excited at the thought of sending volunteers
back into the Pacific to continue building strong
relationships. Both doctors hope to share their 30 years of
medicine, changing the lives of those they work alongside
and forging their own unforgettable experiences. VSA is
preparing for when borders open more fully, working with
local partners in the Pacific to identify needs that build
on existing strengths, develop assignments and find New
Zealanders who can meet these specific needs for each
Pacific country VSA works
alongside.

© Scoop Media

 



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