The HMAS Canberra-based Australian Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters are helping the Vanuatu Ministry of Health deliver critical medical supplies to Tafea Province in the south.
The ship’s landing craft in Port Vila transported the goods to Canberra. They included pharmaceuticals, children’s nutrition, medical kits, and refrigerators to keep temperature-sensitive items like vaccines.
Moving food, shelter, and medicine to the Tafea Island group, including central Tanna Island, will be the initial stage of the logistics effort.
Greg Willie, co-leader of logistics and procurement for the National Health Emergency Operation Committee, coordinates their deployment to the southern province with Defense officers in Canberra.
When other transportation options were unavailable, he claimed Canberra and its attached helicopters could step in and assist.
The available plane could not manage the weight of the goods, and certain sea-going vessels were not available due to cyclone damage, according to Mr Willie. Initially, the supplies were supposed to be supplied by air.
The National Disaster Management Office coordinated the movement with DFAT and Defense officials.
To ensure the medical supplies are logged before being delivered to Lenakel Hospital on Tanna Island, Navy nursing officer Lieutenant Donna Miller is coordinating with the Ministry of Health staff.
Lieutenant Miller stated that we would cooperate with the 12-person medical team from the Ministry of Health currently in Tanna to deliver the supplies to the hospital.
The central hospital in Lenakel is the immediate objective; from there, it will be transferred locally to remote locations, as many of the health centres in other island sections were damaged by the two cyclones.
With the medical supplies, Vanuatu Mobile Force personnel and Army engineers from the 6th Engineer Support Regiment are repairing hospital damage caused by Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin on the islands of Tanna and Futuna.
Canberra landed in Port Vila on March 9 and has since been working on various projects that the nation’s National Disaster Management Office has prioritized.