Media Release - Army engineers reopen local hospital on Tanna - 11 April 2015
11 April 2015
People from the cyclone devastated island of Tanna now have access to a fully functional hospital after Army engineers spent three weeks in Vanuatu repairing the badly damaged building on the Western and most populous side of the island.
Men and women from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment (3 CER), including plumbing, electrical and carpentry tradesmen, cleared significant amounts of debris throughout the Lenakel Hospital, repaired damaged walls and roofs, restored power and gave the people access to clean water.
Robert Moise, local Tanna resident and Acting Director of the Lenakel Hospital, said the ADF had helped save the lives of many people seeking much needed medical aid.
“They worked so quickly and so well to get the operating theatre, maternity ward, labour room, matron service, pharmacy and laundry all back to working condition.”
“Because of them we have had between 20 and 30 babies delivered here in a clean and safe environment. We had a great team here; we couldn’t have made it without them.”
During a reopening ceremony on the 8th of April, local nurses and doctors individually thanked the ADF for their remarkable achievements at Lenakel.
David Tovovur, Assistant Secretary General for Tafea Province, said it was a dream come true for his people.
“It would have taken us so much time to do it by ourselves; with the way the Army has helped here, it is truly a miracle.”
Commanding Officer 3 CER Lieutenant Colonel John Daunt said Lenakel Hospital was the pinnacle task on Tanna and something his troops should be extremely proud of.
“These are the kind of jobs we love to do. To be able to help a people in desperate need, which the people of Vanuatu were, is not something we would ever shirk from and something the guys love doing.
“They are a very resilient people, they get stuck in and get things done but sometimes it’s a little bit beyond what the capacity locally is to do.”
“The ability to repair the hospital would have taken months given the devastation across the rest of Vanuatu, but to get this done in a matter of a couple weeks from the event is something the community will appreciate for a very long time,” Lieutenant Colonel Daunt said.
The reopening of the Lenakel Hospital marked the end of 3 CER’s mission on Tanna and another milestone for a remote community quickly getting back on track.
“We see more and more the ability of the local authorities to deliver and distribute aid without our assistance,” Lieutenant Colonel Daunt said.
“The people of Tanna, and Vanuatu more broadly, are well on the way back on their feet, it’s been our pleasure to come and give them a hand in these early stages of recovery but they are now more than capable of doing this on their own.”
Vision will be fed to the Parliamentary Press Gallery later today.
Imagery of Lenakel Hospital is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150889
Op Pacific Assist imagery is available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20150618
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999