World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


SPC lends public health surveillance helping hand to Vanuatu

SPC lends public health surveillance helping hand to Vanuatu

27 March 2015
Noumea, New Caledonia – Three public health experts from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will head to Port Vila and Pentecost Island this weekend to support Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health with the surveillance, diagnosis and response to diseases with epidemic potential and other public health emergencies.

SPC will initially deploy two epidemiologists and one laboratory specialist following a request from theVanuatu Government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for assistance over the next two months.

”We’re very pleased to lend a technical helping hand to our Vanuatu colleagues in close collaboration with our partners from WHO and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,” the Deputy Director of SPC’s Public Health Division, Dr Yvan Souarès, said.

“Our specialists will be rostered to provide epidemiology and laboratory support in shifts of two to three weeks to ensure a constant presence in both Port Vila and Pentecost over the next two months,” Dr Souarès said.

Both epidemiologists, Dr Paul White and Jojo Merilles, will be based in Pentecost (Panama Province) for the next three weeks. They will be in charge of supporting the establishment and implementation of Early Warning and Response Operations for diseases with epidemic potential, such as malaria and measles, as well as emerging diseases and any communicable diseases in general.

Vijesh Lal, an SPC laboratory specialist, will be based in Port Vila for an initial shift of two weeks. He will help assess the health laboratory needs and rapid diagnosis of diseases with epidemic potential or other public health importance, at the two reference hospitals in Port Vila.

Recent estimates by SPC’s Statistics for Development Division in conjunction with Vanuatu’s National Statistics Office showed that prior to tropical cyclone Pam, of the total projected population of 14,280 Ni-Vanuatu children under two years of age, 68 per cent (9,960 children) had not had a measles vaccination. See the PRISM website: In response to a potential measles outbreak, the Ministry of Health and its Health Clusters’ partners, such as UNICEF, have stepped up immunization campaigns for children under five years of age in Port Vila and other areas, such as Tanna.

Substantial achievements have already been attained. According to UNICEF, from an estimated target of 10,000 children (aged under five) in Port Vila, 8,707 had received one shot of measles, polio and tetanus vaccines as of yesterday (26 March 2015).

As the principal technical and scientific organisation supporting development priorities in the Pacific region, SPC will be standing by its members impacted by tropical cyclone Pam for the long haul.

More details of SPC’s comprehensive response in conjunction with its member governments, development partners and fellow CROP agencies is available at:


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Recent Upheavals Inside Iran

In the fortnight since the Internet got switched back on in Iran, the ferocity of the crackdown on the recent demonstrations has become evident. Reportedly, hundreds of people have been killed, thousands wounded and thousands more have been arrested. More>>


UN Emissions Report: World On Course For Climate Spike

Even if countries meet commitments made under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world is heading for a 3.2 degrees Celsius global temperature rise over pre-industrial levels… More>>


Pacific: Tongan PM 'Akilisi Pohiva Dies, Aged 78

A constant thorn in the side of the monarchy and nobility, Mr Pohiva's lifelong battle for representation had seen him fired from the public service and charged with sedition... More>>


Untied Kingdom: UK PM Moves To Suspend Parliament In Weeks Before Brexit

The Prime Minister has briefed Cabinet colleagues that the government will bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval, and that the current parliamentary session will be brought to an end. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Hong Kong Protest Movement

The pro-democracy protests enjoy huge support among Hong Kong’s youth, partly because the democratic systems currently at risk have only a limited time span. More>>