Dear Editor,

I would be very grateful if you could publish this letter. Thank you in advance.

I followed, with great interest, the recent visit of the Ministerial delegation to Vila Central Hospital. Thank you COM for sending this delegation to VCH. It will assist the Minister and DG of Health to understand the “preparedness” at VCH for possible COVID-19 entry into Vanuatu.

With the reports coming out of the visit in the media, I feel that people of Vanuatu need to ask some direct questions to the Minister and DG of Health. The reasons are that (1) we closed our international borders in March 2020 and (2) we started vaccinations in June 20211. Seeing the spread of this ever-mutating virus in the neighboring countries I have to ask the questions;

1. Have we prepared VCH, NPH, Lenakel Hospital, Norsup Hospital and Lolowai Hospital to manage patients who may need ventilation?

2. Do we have equipment, consumables and drugs to provide ventilation in these health facilities?

3. Do we have the staff with proper training to take care of patients being ventilated?

4. Have we contacted private clinics to support by seeing patients who are sick, but do not have this virus?

5. Do we have a Plan B, where we have discussed possible human resources and other forms of support with our overseas health development partners?

In 2008 and 2009 the MoH, AusAID and Westmead Hospital put together a paper on improving services at VCH. Many of our Minsters and former Ministers have copies of this paper. Sadly, it was never implemented. I see the idea of building a new specialized Hospital in the media. How long will this take? We have facilities in place. Let us equip them. We have had a lot of time. Now, we have only two months before the possibility of opening our international borders and letting this virus into the country.

Thank you.

Dr. Willie Tokon

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