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ANZACS farewell Banda Aceh Public Hospital

ANZACS farewell Banda Aceh Public Hospital

Australian and New Zealand medical staff have completed their last surgery at Banda Aceh's Zinoel Abidin Hospital. At sunset the ANZAC force paraded on the makeshift helipad to the chant of the Haka and the strains of Waltzing Matilda.

Australia's Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, attended the ceremony.

The ANZAC Hospital was established as part of the Banda Aceh Public Hospital in the first week of January and has since treated 3600 patients. Tonnes of mud were shovelled from a number of buildings before treatment could move from field hospital tents.

Prior to the tsunami, the facility had functioned as the city's largest public hospital and medical training college. The tsunami killed hundreds of hospital staff. Survivors have been returning to work alongside the Australian and New Zealand medical teams. "The process of returning the hospital to civilian staff provides great motivation for my doctors and nurses to take up their role of serving the people of Banda Aceh," said the head administrator of the Banda Aceh Public Hospital, Dr Rus Manandar.

LTCOL Georgeina Whelan, Commanding Officer of the ANZAC Hospital, said the hospital had undergone dramatic improvements, including the reconnection of power and water in recent days.

"We will leave behind a functioning medical facility in the hands of those who will provide long term care," she said. "The role of our Defence Forces was to provide emergency relief. That emergency phase is now over."

Last Tuesday Indonesian staff took over the daily shifts in the Infectious Diseases Ward.

Australian and New Zealand forces, including engineering units, will withdraw from Sumatra in coming weeks.

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