U.S. to support COVID Contact Tracing efforts in Vanuatu through Peace Corps

United States Ambassador to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands, Erin E. McKee, attended the Handover Ceremony of Contact Tracing Training program to the Government of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health to help fight COVID-19, virtually yesterday.

Minister of Health, Silas Bule, received the training materials at the event. The training will be implemented by the Vanuatu College of Nursing Education (VCNE).

The training was crafted by the staff of Peace Corps Vanuatu, under the leadership of acting Director of Programming and Training, Fredlyn Nako. By the end of the year, VCNE will render the training to the first cohort of people to increase the number of health workers equipped with contact tracing skills.

This important training is essential in event of a public health outbreak. Contact Tracing is used to help identify those who could potentially have been exposed to a disease outbreak. Currently, Contact Tracing is a key component of the Government of Vanuatu’s preparedness and response plan against COVID- 19.

“In the absences of Volunteers, Peace Corps is still positively impacting the country’s development priorities, this time with staff’s expertise,” Ambassador McKee stated.

“The Peace Corps staff are leaders in their respective fields, a natural fit to lead the design of the Contact Tracing training,’

During the event, Health Minister Bule shared information about the Vanuatu Outbreak Alert System. “The Vanuatu Outbreak Alert System aims to inform the public about the outbreaks or increases of communicable diseases, and each level describes the measures the members of the public need to take based on the risk level,” he said.

Country Director for Peace Corps, Penny Alexander, acting Director General of Ministry of Health, Dr. Sam Posikai Tapo, Surveillance Manager, Wendy Williams and representatives from the Australian High Commission, World Health Organization, Vanuatu Tourism Office and Shefa Provincial Health also participated in the event.

The Peace Corps director stated, “We are grateful for the opportunity to support the Ministry of Health in the redesign of the Contact Tracing Training. We are also very excited to announce a mascot design contest for the Vanuatu Outbreak Alert System with sponsoring prizes from Air Vanuatu, Digicel and Vanuatu Tourism Office.”

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