Vila Central Hospital (VCH)’s maternity ward has been notorious for its undesirable complex, but all that is about to change thanks to a complete renovation funded by the Australian Government.

From the Cyclone Pam Recovery Fund under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, the maternity wards approximately VT30 million facelift is a godsend for all expecting mothers who have voiced their concerns of the dreaded original condition of the birthing ward.

Acting Superintendent of VCH Dr. Tony Harry cleared any confusion of a JICA phase two project presence and explained that DFAT’s project is a modernized restoration approach.

“If the Japanese are doing a second-phase they will be doing new buildings, they’re not doing all buildings that are British built, so what Australia is doing is renovating the old British buildings, but not expanding them. Putting new windows, news screens, new partitions, new beds, new equipment’s, new ceiling and new roof,” Dr. Harry explained.

With repairs and new structures being the product of other countries, Dr. Harry was asked, ‘why didn’t the Ministry of Health fund the renovation of the Maternity ward, why wait for a donor to do it for them?’

Dr. Harry replied: “There is talk that they (the Ministry of Health) gonna renovate it, but when Cyclone Pam came (March 2015) and then things were not going the way they were supposed to be then DFAT took up the opportunity through the Cyclone Pam Recovery (Fund) and decided to renovate the maternity and also decided to renovate the old laboratory and theatre.”

While the remodeling is currently in play and expected to be completed in August, prenatal and postnatal mothers have been moved to the original laboratory and the old/newly renovated theatre is now the delivery room.

The Capital Projects Technical Advisor in collaboration with Australian Aid, Tim Egerton, who is positioned under the Ministry of Health’s Resource Mechanism Department mentioned that all renovations for VCH were preplanned in 2016 after TC Pam and are now being activated.

“We’ve done most of the work so far in the rural areas, so now this one (maternity ward) and the morgue building are the last two projects plus some final work down at Lenakel Hospital,” Mr. Egerton said.

As to the three-year gap from planning to implementation, Mr. Egerton explained that an active hospital is difficult to renovate – “the problem is trying to do renovations in an operating hospital, obviously you have patients and doctors 24hrs a day, so what we had to do was renovate building six and seven and we’ve renovated the old operating theatre and we’ve moved all the patients from the maternity ward temporarily so we can do this work, so there was a sequence of things that had to get done first”.

The Acting Superintendent added that despite the new look on the entire maternity ward, the same fees will apply including one private room.

Dr. Harry further stated that renovations to the Children’s ward and Surgical ward are in the pipeline, but the donor party would possibly be different.