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.”

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.