Concerns Over Vila Central Hospital Equipment’s

Vila Central Hospital

Vila Central Hospital

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) is concerned about the state of the equipment’s that are being used at the Vila Central, especially the new ones; can the operational quality of the new equipment’s be sustained?

TIV was told that three weeks ago a new ultrasound machine worth VT10 million broke down, and unfortunately it still has not been fixed to this today.

The questions raised are: Will VCH buy another ultra sound machine or will it be repaired? Does the VCH always have to purchase new equipments to replace faulty ones rather than providing maintenance? 

TIV understands that in 2012 an expatriate with expertise in bio medical engineering was recruited to provide maintenance on the hospital equipment’s, and to train the staff in this particular area. He was given a two years contract, and the authorities at that time identified two Ni- Vanuatu technicians to be trained by the biomedical technician.

However, since this recruitment in 2014 no training has reportedly been conducted, the staff that were chosen to receive the technical assistance have reportedly not received any training as initially planned. TIV is aware that one of the two local staff that had been chosen to undergo the maintenance training is now looking after the two oxygen plant machines worth VT20million each; one based in Vila and the other one is based in Santo.

In view of the fact that the person looking after these two expensive machines has not received the training that he should get from the Bio Medical Engineer, what will happen when the other equipment’s stop working or are damaged? Which option would the authorities go for; would it be best to look for more funds to buy a new machine to replace to broken down one? Or train the local staff to be able fix faulty machines? Interestingly, though recruited almost four years ago, the Engineer is still working at the VCH.

A spokesperson from the VCH Maintenance Office confirmed to TIV that the Bio Medical Engineer recruited in 2012 to train staffs never provided them with any training. The spokesperson stated that the engineer only takes them on field trips to observe, and to learn about the operations of medical equipment’s, but he is not teaching them theoretically.

“We heard that he is currently preparing a training program for us in the maintenance section but we are not sure of when it will happen,” the spokesperson said. TIV was told that two of the technicians of the VCH travelled to Australia in 2014 to undergo trainings facilitated by the supplier of the new equipments before being installed in the new VCH building.

The spokesperson from the VCH Maintenance Office said if anything goes wrong with the new machines, they may not be able to repair the machines.

“At the moment, if a new machine breaks down, the people who installed them must come to examine and do repairs but we cannot touch them yet,” the spokesperson said.

TIV is calling on the Ministry of Health and the Public Service to revisit their decisions on the planned trainings for the VCH staff, have they been implemented? Why has there been no training? The medical machines are expensive equipment’s that is why they have to be monitored and maintained because faulty machines also costs lives if not properly attended to.

The VCH needs an engineer to train staffs and to perform urgent repairs when a medical machine breaks down. The medical equipment’s must always operate in full capacity as this could mean the difference between life and death for patients. When one equipment stops working, saving lives will be difficult, medical equipment’s are life savers.

The staff of VCH need to be trained so that Vanuatu will not always depend on foreign specialists to do the job that local professionals can do if given the opportunity.  It is about time we start acting to contribute and to empower positive changes in the future.  The authorities concerned must take into consideration the long term impacts of their decisions and to start making better informed decisions where it is lacking. Where will Vanuatu be in ten years time if we continue to recruit foreign specialists to come and do the jobs for us?

Last year TIV reported on the out of dated machines that are still being used by the medical facilities, emphasizing on the fact that a lot of funds are being spend on motions of no confidences and the misuse of the government vehicles, funds that could be directed to assist priority areas like the medical industry of Vanuatu.

Make the right decisions now, because our future depends on what we do today. Famous Writer and Professor Peter F. Drucke quoted that “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”


The Mautoa Park Petition

Members of the community standing around the petition.

Members of the community standing around the petition.

The Prime Minister is expected to receive the Mautoa Park Petition on Friday 20.

The number of signatories recorded on the Mautoa Park petition has apparently increased to over 3,000 since the petition was launched almost 2 weeks ago, on 7 February, as reported to TIV.

What is a petition?

A petition is a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to the concerned authority with respect to a particular cause. Petitioning is a powerful tool, and a peaceful way of uniting different people from different backgrounds to stand up against a system, or an event that is regarded by the people as not productive, unhealthy, one sided, or corrupted.

For instance, in 2012, in the United Kingdom a local called Peter Jackson from Fife started a petition after the Fife Council announced the closure of Eden Park, which is a respite centre for children with special needs.

“Please support our petition to prevent Fife Council from closing Eden Park Children’s Respite Centre, The centre provides much needed respite to special needs children and their families,” petitioned the locals.

Fife Council had announced the closure of the centre without consultation with families or staff at the centre. The locals found out about the closure via the media.

They stated that the “action taken by the council is wrong and should be reversed. The children use Eden Park regularly…the children interact with other children in a safe and friendly environment that would not otherwise be afforded.”

In 2013 Peter Jackson reported success. “Thank you to everyone who signed and supported this petition. Fife Council have today sent letters to all the families associated with Eden Park informing them that the facility is remaining OPEN. Your continued support throughout this long and arduous process was greatly appreciated. Thank You.”


The Mautoa Park Petition

With over 3,000 signatories The Mautoa Park Petition carries a unified representation. Transparency International Vanuatu was told that during a meeting at Mautoa Park this week by the community, it was confirmed that the Prime Minister is expected to receive the petition today, Friday 19.

Despite the allegations of extortion and misappropriation over the management of Mautoa Park, it is interesting that the community have rallied together to “keep the green space along with its management, with the community”.

The Victims & Good Management

From a point of view, it is a rather complicated situation in its own terms, with exchanges of comments on social media and reported misunderstandings, confusions, and allegations.

As a fact, corruption within the community is as rotten as corruption at the national level, it is that idea of ‘knowing that it is wrong, but you do it anyway, and only a few will benefit from it’.

Consequently, the vendors, and the members of the community became the victims when the tables were over turned. Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has always been advocating against bad practices and corruption, and through its Advocacy & Legal Advice Centre (ALAC), has spoken and followed up on cases on behalf of victims of corruption.

Empty Market House

Empty Market House

Apart from Mautoa Park TIV has also received complaints regarding the loud noise that were emitted by different groups at the AVL Stage at Freswota field, the sound from the speakers could be heard as far as the Ohlen Whitewood area, clearly this act was already in contrast with the law but nothing was done. The Pollution Control Act of 2013, Part 4, Section 19 states that the:

‘Discharge or emission of pollutants from premises (1) A person must not discharge or emit pollutants from any premises on or onto any land, body of water, foreshore or air so as to result in: (a) unreasonable interference with the health, welfare, or amenity of any other person; or (b) any adverse effect on the environment. (2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence punishable on conviction: (a) if the person is an individual – by imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or a fine not exceeding VT4,000,000, or both; or (b) if the person is a body corporate – by a fine not exceeding VT8,000,000.

Therefore, if a person or group is causing discomfort to another person by way of emitting any of the pollutions mentioned above, they are breaking the law, thus they are punishable by imprisonment or a fine. Unfortunately, nothing has been done.

TIV would like to stress that good management of such community institutions must always be a priority. If the groups that had been tasked with managing the market or the AVL stage had not reached the expected expectations, then why did it take too long to intervene? Was there a possibility that the authorities could step in to run several management, and business programs with the community? If there was some form of mentoring program in place that would assist in upgrading management skills, would the story be different? Yes!

It would be interesting to see how the Prime Minister responds to the community petition, given the fact that his government is made of several coalitions, and that he is also the Chairman of the Council of Ministers who approved of the signing over of Mautoa Park and the Freswota Field.

Transparency International Vanuatu advocates against corruption, supports good decision making and promotes good governance in Vanuatu, TIV would like to encourage our leaders, nationally and at the community level, to prioritise the welfare of the people and to work towards a corrupt free, and good governing ideals that will benefit everyone and not only a few.

Unhappy Patients Voice Their Concerns

The services at the Vila Central Hospital needs more consideration and further input into its service deliveries and facilities, stated some unhappy patients.

WHEN TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU visited the Vila Central Hospital this week, it was clear that the staff of the VCH are not very punctual. The outpatient doors were not open until after 8:00am.

A mother who spent a night in the emergency room with his sick son finally took their treatment the next day, she said it is disappointing when patients turn up on time for their appointments but the doctors and nurses are not on time.

“Our children are suffering yet we have to wait for those doctors and nurses to be on time to give us the treatments needed,” said the mother.

“We pay their salaries, so they should be here on time to serve us, instead our sick children have to suffer in this uncomfortable hot weather waiting for them to turn up,” she said. Another mother told TIV that she once brought her sick son to the new hospital building thinking the services would be different, but it turned to be different from what she had expected.

“My son was crying because he was sick, yet we had to wait for hours before getting all our treatments,” she said.


VCH Outpatient

She said they came in to the hospital around 10am in the morning, when they were sent off by the doctor to get blood tests it was already lunchtime. The poor mother, trying to save money so she could not go home and then come back again in the afternoon, she had to wait around the hospital until 1:30pm.

“Although a few mothers were selling food at the hospital premises, there is no canteen where patients can buy something to eat if their treatments are not complete by lunchtime,” she said.

The disappointed mother continued “it was a long wait again in the afternoon before taking medications from the pharmacy, we left the hospital after 3:00pm in the afternoon”.

Vanuatu activist, Mrs Jenny Ligo, stated in an email to the Public Service Department that “the Outpatient urgently needs to have a beverage machine again like it used to have at the former outward patient.  As patients waiting takes longer and many children need to eat and even adults.  We need a cafeteria as many patients cannot continue to wait if they are not seen before 11:30am.”

In addition, staff from the blood laboratory of the VCH always seem to come late to work. According to observations by patients, most of the blood laboratory staffs always come in to work after 8:30am to 9:00am.

Patients are also complaining about the hospital facilities such as poor air ventilation in the main halls, toiletries and the lack of cafeteria.

TIV understands that the Public Service Commission (PSC) is adopting a new Performance Management System (PMS) to assess individual public servants’ performance in various categories. This new system is offered to encourage better services.

PSC Chairman Kanam Wilson said in a Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) Meeting that, traditional weaknesses in the Public Service like time management will now be addressed through the new PMS.

“Punctuality and time management will be monitored to confirm whether a public servant is performing. If one is not performing then there are mechanisms in place to help public servants perform,” he said.

Last year TIV reported on these issues, concerning the poor and out of dated facilities, and the lack of commitment by the authorities to see that the medical field in Vanuatu operates fairly and at a high professional standard.

Empty Tables, Empty Pockets

Market vendors selling the produce beside an empty market house.

A look at the current news on Mautoa Park, Freswota.

As of Monday 9 February, close to a thousand people in the biggest urban community in Port Vila have signed a petition to present to Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Joe Natuman.

An Unhappy Community

 Allegations of extortion, misappropriation and political propaganda have created
opposite feelings between the community of Freswota and the authorities
concerned over the community park and its assets.

Currently, the assets that now occupy this green space were built by the community on land that was registered to the National Housing Corporation (NHC). As a result, unhappy community members responded negatively to the transfer agreement that took place between the NHC and the government for the management of the Community Park and assets.

TIV is aware that the NHC have reportedly received nothing, thus prompting the intervention by the authorities.

Allegations of Corruption

The market income revenue are still not accounted for; there are no financial records of expenses and revenues. The former management committees have not yet presented any form of record to prove that they have managed the market.

TIV has been told that there may be other factors surrounding the current issue, TIV will continue to look into it, and to advocate against bad practices.

An Empty Community Market

As a result, the mothers who sell their produces at the community market have become the victims; they are now forced to sell their produce by the side of the road near the empty market, with no shelter from the rain or from the blistering heat of the sun.

The stalemate that is now in occurrence has left a space for urgent dialogues, urgent measures, community reactions, and surprisingly a community united front evolving around a community petition despite their differences in their political affiliations.

Community Petition


Signing the Petition

Despite comments from the general public that this petition would only represent a small ‘segment’ of the community the outcome was different; Transparency International Vanuatu was informed that on Saturday 7, by nightfall, there were over 500 signatures, by Monday 9 there were over 900 signatures with more coming in.

This means that on the third day of the petition almost 15 percent out of the approximately 7000 residents of Freswota had registered their support.

The Leader of the Opposition, Moana Caracasses, was also present at Mautoa Park, he strongly emphasized that the community park should be managed by the community, but it has to be with good management skills.

And on a political note, MP Moana added some pressure, “I hope that when this petition gets to the Honorable (PM) Joe Natuman, I challenge him, to make sure that this (Mautoa Park) does not get out,” challenged the Opposition Leader.

Accountability and Transparency

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has a strong presence in the community of Freswota, TIV has observed in the two polling stations within the Freswota Ward in the two last elections and has reported to the electoral office some irregularities on the electoral roll that occurred in the area.

TIV has also engaged with Freswota Youth in Civic Education Workshops and plus training over 5 of the youth to take part in Vanuatu’s first ever Youth Parliament. In 2013 the International Anti-Corruption Day celebration was held at Mautoa Park with over 300 people attending the event.

It is important that all parties must work together to achieve accountability and transparency. Any management body that will be tasked with managing the park and its assets must be well defined in their roles, they must be transparent, accountable and committed to serving the welfare of the vendors, buyers, and those that just want to enjoy the privileges of having a green space.

Members of the community standing around the petition.

Members of the community standing around the petition.

TI Pacific Media & Advocacy Workshop

Media Workshop

Participants at the workshop.

The Transparency International Asia Pacific Regional Program organized the Pacific Media and Advocacy Workshop this week in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The two-day workshop was held at the Grand Hotel with participants from TI Chapters’ across the Pacific including Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and Vanuatu. The Asia Pacific Regional Coordinator based in the TI Secretariat in Berlin, Germany, was also present at the conference.

Facilitated by a communications expert Farid Farid from the Transparency International Secretariat Berlin, the workshop was designed to provide hands-on training for the media and communications officers within the Transparency International movement.

Farid says as a watchdog, TI Chapters need to communicate issues to the public via the media “because we want to encourage and see changes regarding corruption issues at a local level”.

“If you want to see a change, keep putting pressure on it, keep talking about it in the media using simple but powerful language,” Mr. Farid said.

Media has played a big role in how TI fights corruption. From Africa, Europe, Asia, the Pacific to South America TI Chapters have utilized the effectiveness of the media.

On the second day of the workshop, experienced pacific journalist Francis Herman, who is currently working as the Program Manager for PACMAS encouraged participants to be passionate about their role in presenting stories of corruption to the media.

If you want to spread your message to a wider audience,


Venue of the workshop.

“you have to be in their (media) face, don’t wait for the media to come to you,” Mr. Herman said.

He said there are many important and disturbing issues that are occurring in Vanuatu which are not getting the media attention they deserve, “that is the challenge for organizations like TI” he said.

The Media Workshop focused a lot on the links between national, regional and international news and the different impacts that they can deliver. Vanuatu, out of all the other pacific countries, has experienced little political will for change by government officials, although, many media outlets, including TIV, have been subject to assaults and threats from officials regarding critical news articles or broadcasts, the media must continue to keep corruption issues in the spotlight,

The Workshop also looked at the many ways of disseminating information to the public including print, radio and on-line. The different ways to engage with the audience were also explored; it was highlighted that it is always important for the media to bring corruption issues to the public’s attention in a way that they can relate to.At the end of the workshop the team discussed media plans for each TI Pacific Chapter to work on to help them achieve their communication goals. Including the need to create and strengthen ties with national, regional and international media outlets.

Stories by Transparency International Chapters have been taken by small and big media companies including The Guardian (UK) and The Washington Post (USA).

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has been advocating a lot through the media, by radio, by social media and in print. There are still challenges within the media industry itself that needs to be addressed in order for media in Vanuatu to be as effective as it can get, but until then TIV will continue to use the media as a weapon against corruption.


“Of course 1 or 2 MPs are going to benefit from it, but not the country”: PM

Prime Minister Joe Natuman during a press conference at his office.

Prime Minister Joe Natuman during a press conference at the his office.

DURING A PRESS conference that was held in December of 2014 at the Office of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister again emphasized on the decision that the parliament has taken to step out of the agreement that was initiated by the former government with the Singaporean company for the construction of the new proposed airport.

The Prime Minister stated that the agreement was over 90% of foreign interest, he said that he was surprised that even Vanuatu’s legal professionals did not notice this. Asked if whether the agreement would be beneficial for the country the Prime Minister replied,

“of course 1 or 2 MPs are going to benefit from it, but not the country.”:PM

On other matters, concerning the current political situation in the country, the Prime Minister said that he send a “complaint to the Police, when there were allegations that some fund were being distributed. So investigations are going ahead, this is an offence under the penal code, about bribery. And also around the Leadership Code Act, this is an offence.”

He submitted his complaint before the parliamentary sitting; however the police could not investigate the issue because the Speaker had already given the parliamentary notice. Therefore, as stated in the national constitution, when there is a parliamentary sitting all parliamentarians gain immunity. Since the end of the parliament sitting the police has began in their investigations.

The Prime Minister continued to say that “the Police are investigating this issue right now; it is true that they (suspended MPs) have returned to the Parliament, but if the police investigate these allegations and they establish that there has been some wrongs done then the court will have to look into it”.