Vanuatu Volunteer Aid Post Workers Now To Be Paid By Ministry Of Health

Program has been an important part of Australia’s contribution to strengthening Vanuatu’s health system for two decades

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, January 28, 2017) – All Aid Post workers across the country will be remunerated by the Government, through the Ministry of Health (MOH) starting this year.

Minister of Health, Jerome Ludvaune, confirmed this during yesterday’s official handover of the Village Health Workers (VHW) Program from Save the Children (SCA) to the government.

SCA has been running the VHW program for 18 years in partnership with the MOH.

The program has trained and skilled around 200 VHW working in approximately 200 aid posts in the six provinces.

VHW are volunteers who perform beyond capacity to save lives by ensuring people at the remote areas have access to primary healthcare. Communities see them as the front line of primary health care.

The VHW program has been an important part of Australia’s contribution to strengthening Vanuatu’s health system for two decades.

The Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin, has reaffirmed Australia’s continuous support to the program yesterday.

“The Australian Government will remain an active partner in Vanuatu’s health sector through our support to the medical workforce, the improvements to the health information system, the work to address and increase immunization, and will help rebuild facilities after cyclone Pam.

“Australia is pleased that the government will now own, manage and implement the program,” she added.

SCA Country Manager Georgia Tacey, urged the MOH to equip village health workers with facilities.

“The majority of them are living in remote areas with limited resources.

“They walked long hours in the sun to conduct awareness sessions for mothers and disabled people at under-served communities and sometimes climb trees to get phone reception.

“The stories of humanity and kindness that VHW have given through serving the nation to the nation are countless”, said Tacey.

She urged the MOH not to underestimate a phone call from the VHW and to priorities their infrastructures.

VHW have not received much training and are not compensated.

Shefa was the only province that has been paying VHWs in its 19 area councils.

In his address, minister Ludvaune applauded SCA for implementing the VHW program, a vital organ of health, despite limitations and challenges.

He thank the Australian Government for its financial assistance.

“The program is recognized by the people in the rural areas as their first access to reaching health care. I will ensure that the current development of infrastructures and training improvements are carried forward”, he added.

All VHW are applauded for their perseverance and commitment to serving the country.

Apart from remunerating VHW, minister Ludvaune, declared that “the permanent appointment of a village health workers program coordinator will be made known in the first half of 2017.

“Policy development of the aid post training manual must be upgraded to suit demanding health care needs of the people in the rural areas, given the shortage of nurses.

“”The standardization of the aid post structure will aslo be adopted through out Vanuatu,” said the minister.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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