HEALTH is emerging as a major concern in cyclone-hit Vanuatu where power outages have hit the main hospital.
“WE have heard that the generator at Port Vila Central Hospital is no longer operational,” Oxfam Country Director in Port Vila, Colin Collet van Rooyen, said on Sunday.
This not only affected patient care but also temperature-sensitive medications and vaccines, which need refrigeration.
Mr Collet van Rooyen said it was one of the problems that came up at a meeting between the High Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand and Vanuatu’s high levels of government at the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) on Sunday.
Water sanitation and hygiene at the shelters as well as the need for temporary mortuary facilities also emerged as major concerns at the meeting, Mr Collet van Rooyen said.
Plans around co-ordinated aid and recovery are expected to be announced shortly.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced that Australia will provide a “life-saving” package of $5 million and humanitarian supplies following a request from the Vanuatu government.
“This package will include $5 million that will be provided to Australian NGOs, particularly the Red Cross and to other United Nations partners,” she told reporters in Perth.
“We will also be deploying humanitarian supplies to provide support for up to 5,000 people in the form of water, sanitation and shelter.”
It’s understood that a foreign aid team from Australia will arrive on Sunday afternoon and a United Nations shipment of medical supplies is leaving Fiji.
The toll from Cyclone Pam remains at eight confirmed dead on Sunday but there are fears it could soar when authorities reach outlying islands.
The extent of the damage is also still to be assessed but some have estimated that up to 90 per cent of people in Port Vila alone have some damage to their homes from Friday night’s super storm.
“That could range from complete destruction to minor damage of some sort,” Mr Collet van Rooyen said.
“Even where I’m located at the National Disaster Management Office at the moment, you can see places that are now uninhabitable and some that have got roofs lifted and others that look pretty ok. It’s a complete mix.”
PUBLISHED: MARCH 15, 2015
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