A ni-Vanuatu doctor stationed in the country’s cyclone devastated north says they are in desperate need of more emergency response medical personnel.
Jimmy Obed is with the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) critical care co-ordination centre responding to Cyclone Harold at Santo’s main hospital in Luganville.
Dr Obed is up in Luganville from the capital Port Vila.
“The main reason for me being here is to give assistance to the EMT team here and also to give capacity for relief at the medical ward,” he said.
Dr Obed said most of the medical staff in the region are directly affected by the disaster and are also trying to work.
“The management here is giving time off for the spouses to go and try and rebuild and get their things sorted out together,” he added.
He said this is placing enormous strain on the system.
Dr Obed said the international community has provided EMT technical assistance and there is a local paramedic service but more boots on the ground are needed.
He said the rural and urban EMT teams need more support.
“Each team has been seeing, you know, the whole community, up to even 200, almost 200 patients and consultations in one day. It’s really putting a lot of strain on the human resource here.”
The biggest challenge for EMT medicine in the north, Dr Obed said, is getting enough human resource and the medical supplies so they can deploy to remote areas in need of medical services.
“We haven’t been able to send teams out yet to the rural areas because we don’t have any supplies and rations and things like that to deploy people for more than three days,” he explained.
Reports of diarrhoea and conjunctivitis in the rural areas are a concern, Dr Jim said, along with the secondary health impacts of the cyclone.
Further, a rapid assessment on rural medical supplies and health facilities, he said, has found them damaged and compromised by the storm and that has yet to be addressed.