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.”

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