The people of Epi can now count on a midwife at the Vaemali Hospital to deliver maternal and child health services.
Midwives support and care for women during pregnancy, labor and birth. As skilled birth attendants, midwives play vital role to save lives of women during pregnancy in rural settings and provide life-saving referrals to hospitals.
Vaemali Health Centre has been without a midwife since October 2020. The health centre also needs a doctor, nurse practitioner and handyman. The doctor posted to health centre has left and there is need for replacement.
Just this week, the SHEFA Health Office announced a new midwife for the health centre. She is Anne Pakoa and she was accompanied by the Acting Assistant Nursing Services Manager, Jocelyn Kalkandi, to Epi.
Under the health governance structure, each health centre in Vanuatu should be staffed by at least one nurse practitioner, one registered nurse, one midwife, one nurse aide and a handyman.
Access to health services for women and children on Epi is very difficult due to long distances between communities and the nearest health facilities. Some women end up giving birth on their way to the health centre.
Some people cannot access transportation due to poor road conditions while others who face financial barriers often go without care.
The people in south Epi had to travel by boat to Lamen Bay or west Epi before accessing a vehicle to reach the health center during emergencies. More than 40 years after independence, south Epi is still not connected to other parts of the island with a road.
Manager of SHEFA Health, Obed Manwo, said the office is trying its best to increase access to health services on the island.
He said the island also needs another aid-post to expand services.
Manager Manwo said they will sort out the doctor situation for the Vaemali Health Center and also find a handyman.