Vanuatu

Report 1

Reporter:

Contact at destination:

Year of visit: 2000

Country: Vanuatu - South Pacific

Region: Santo

Institution: Northern District Hospital

Department

Work / Study undertaken: I did general ward work in medicine and paediatrics but students can choose which areas they work in. We had an-call responsibilities - very good practical experience. I did some work on diabetes in Vanuatu

Description of destination: The hospital has 100 beds and medicine, surgery, paeds, O&G and TB wards as well as out patients, X Ray, laboratory and limited ultrasound facilities. The hospital is on a hill above Luganville, a small town (85,000) with fairly basic but adequate shops, restaurants and bars. Beautiful Island

Were the locals friendly: Yes lots of ex-pats and diving instructors

Did you feel safe and if not why not?Fairly, but we were always in a group. some verbal abuse was experienced from local men

What did you do in your spare time ? DIVING - excellent location, relatively cheap, good instruction. Sight seeing on island visits to beaches, local villages and jungle. Interesting history from world war two.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Diving, trips out to villages with rural medicine teams, on-call very good experience, basic medicine but lots of signs

What was the climate like? Very warm, end of rainy season so some enormous downpours (brief) overall pleasant

What was your accommodation like? On hospital site. Just behind medicine ward. TB ward very close! opposite ecompression dive chamber. Basic but adequate. Single room for 2 weeks, shared for 2 weeks. En suite bathroom with cold water, fan. Basic cooking facilities. Can accommodate up to 8 students.

Was it provided? Yes

If not who arranged it?

How much did it cost? £50 for a month !

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, enormously

Did you find it useful medically?Very. Good practical experience, confidence building. On-call support varies but generally adequate

Has it improved your french?

Has it increased your knowledge of French culture?

If you went back would you do anything differently? No

How did you get there? London - Brisbane, Quantas Brisbane - Port Vila - Luganville, Air Vanuatu

What was the approximate total cost? Flights £1000, accommodation £60, living costs ~ £100 / week

Is there any other information that you think may be useful?

The doctor now in charge of electives has just taken over the job and appears very organised. Previously arranging the elective has been very difficult .... Fax is the best way to contract, or phone Santo is 11 hours ahead of UK. Take malaria prophylaxis and a mosquito net and lots of insect repellent. Enjoy - its great!

Report 2

Reporter: K.Kulkarni

Contact at destination: Dr Sameesa

Year of visit: 2005

Country: Vanuatu - South Pacific

Region: Santo

Institution: Northern District Hospital

Department

Work / Study undertaken: I spent most of my time between outpatients and the medical/paeds and surgical wards (and theatre).

Description of destination

Vanuatu is a group of islands in the South Pacific, about 3 hours from the east coast of Australia. With a population of only around 200,000, most locals live in traditional villages, There are only 2 real ‘towns’ as such – the capital (Port Vila on the island of Efate) and Luganville (on the island of Santo). These are also the places that are home to the 2 main hospitals of Vanuatu. Although the hospital in Vila is relatively quite well equipped in terms of staff and equipment, the Northern District Hospital is much more basic. It has around 100-or-so beds housing medical, surgical, paediatric, obs & gynae and TB patients. In addition, there are a number of outpatient clinics, the bulk of which cover general problems/infectious diseases (almost all malaria). There are monthly eye clinics/theatres held by visiting doctors. The hospital itself has x-ray facilities, a basic laboratory (malaria films and full blood counts only, really) and limited ultrasound facilities. The hospital is situated up a hill above the town of Luganville.

Were the locals friendly? Very.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? I felt very safe in Vanuatu, but then I was always with a group of people. Due to the fact that it is not a very populated place with limited street lighting, it can get very quiet and dark at nights even in the ‘towns’.

What did you do in your spare time ? Read lots of books. There islLots of things to see around the island (beaches, caves etc.) and on other islands (eg. Volcanos, etc.). Not huge amounts of restaurants/bars/shops around so it’s not the busiest elective destination.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do?

On Santo: Champagne beach and millennium caves (and lots of good dive sites if you like to dive). Be warned though…the nearest dive doctor is on Vila so if something goes wrong, you have to treat yourself. Thought that might scare you.

Also, go to the island of Tanna (see the volcano). And on Efate, see the cascades just outside Vila and go big game fishing around Lelapa island.

What was the climate like? Rains a lot, but always hot. Santo is less hot/sunny and more overcast than Vila. Tanna is a bit cooler.

What was your accommodation like? Good. 4 rooms, each with a bunk bed and a single bed. All have attached bathrooms. Some beds have own mosquito nets. A students common room/kitchen is attached, which has a TV/DVD player and some books.

Was it provided? Yes.

If not who arranged it?

Check when arranging elective. Lester (a nurse) sorts out getting keys for you when you get there.

How much did it cost? About £50 for first 2 weeks, then about £25 per week after.

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes.

Did you find it useful medically? Yes and no. Very little of what you learn is applicable back home. For something different and the chance to ‘do as much as possible with very little available’, definitely.

Has it improved your french? -

If you went back would you do anything differently? No.

How did you get there? Air NZ (Lon-LA-Fiji). Air Vanuatu (Fiji-Vila). Van Air (Vila-Santo). The Van Air flights are around £100 return. Ask for student discount (25% off).

What was the approximate total cost? Flights £1200, accom £50, living costs £100ish/week.

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? The old electives coordinator (Dr Chris Tari) has left and so there is noone really coordinating things. Dr Sameesa is the best person to contact at the hospital as he will be there in the near future so will be your best bet for organising electives.

Report 3

Reporter: Sarah Davies

Contact at destination: Dr Kasso (Medical Student Elective Coordinator)

Year of visit: 2006

Country: Vanuatu - South Pacific

Region: Espiritu Santo

Institution: Northern District Hospital, Luganville.

Department: Mostly maternity and paediatrics, but also general surgical and medical wards

Work / Study undertaken

During the month at the NDH, I had the opportunity to participate in ward rounds, attend operating lists, have my own on-call duties, and sit in during outpatient clinics. However, I spent the majority of my time in the maternity department, carrying out newborn baby checks and assisting in births. I also completed a research project to investigate the impact of malaria infection during pregnancy on infant growth.

Description of destination

The Northern District Hospital is situated on-top of the hill overlooking Luganville town and the Segond Channel. It has beautiful views over the island and across to Aore Island. The hospital itself has approximately 130 beds in 5 separate wards; medicine, surgery, paeds, O&G and TB. It also has a busy Outpatient department run by specialist nurses, a Radiology building (I rarely saw x-rays requested) and a basic laboratory (Full Blood Counts and Malaria screens). The hospital has on-site accommodation (I didn’t stay there because we were told that it would be full at the time – it wasn’t) and a common room for elective students.

Were the locals friendly? Yes, extremely friendly. Everyone (including complete strangers) would say hello as you walked about the town. There were a lot of helpful ex-pats and diving instructors too.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, very. However, I was always in a small group of people. I wouldn’t suggest walking around Luganville on your own at night (same as for any UK town).

What did you do in your spare time? Swimming at Deco stop Lodge next door to the hospital and attending their Custom Night, kayaking in the Segond Channel, diving the SS President Coolidge (a WW2 massive shipwreck) and Million Dollar Point, visiting beautiful beaches (Champagne Beach) and Blue Holes, neighboring islands (Aore) eating out at the Market Stalls and Chinese restaurants. Plenty to do at weekends, we didn’t get to see everything in 4 weeks!

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Going on-call at night, delivering babies (midwives are all lovely), day trips and diving – I recommend getting your PADI Open Water Certification in Vanuatu if you don’t already have it – diving here is not something to miss out on!

What was the climate like? Very hot (up to 34 degrees) and humid (up to 80%) (May-June), often cloudy with some rain, but some very nice sunny days too!

What was your accommodation like?

At the Beachfront Resort (just under 2 miles from the hospital) – you can get a taxi to the hospital for 200 vatu (about £1) each way, and it is not difficult to hail down a taxi each morning. The Beachfront Resort was lovely. Four of us stayed in the ‘Divers’ lodge with an ex-pat retired diving instructor. 3 separate bedrooms – diving instructor in one, and 2 single beds in the other 2 rooms. Has 2 bathrooms (one with hot water, although cold showers are fine in the heat), a fully equipped kitchen and very comfortable lounge with sofas, computer, TV and DVD player. (NB: internet in Vanuatu is slow and not cheap!)

Was it provided? We organised it ourselves because we had been told that the hospital student’s accommodation was full. (8 person capacity). As it turned out, it wasn’t but we decided to stay at the Beachfront lodge anyway.

If not who arranged it? We did, via their website and by emailing Dave Cross.

How much did it cost? Approximately £300 for a month.

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. I would love to go back and work at the hospital again.

Did you find it useful medically? Yes. Although having since done Obs and Gynae in the 5th year, I feel that I could have done a lot more in the maternity department and gained more hands on experience. On-call was useful for dealing with acutely sick patients, although your treatment options are very limited, and often confined to paracetamol, chloroquine and amoxicillin.

Has it improved your French? It has improved my Bislama (known as Pidgin English) which is a mixture of the traditional Ni-Vanuatu language, French and English.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Not really – but it has definitely increased my understanding of the Ni-Vanuatu culture.

If you went back would you do anything differently? Spend longer there! Deliver more babies.

How did you get there? London – Brisbane (BA) - Port Vila (Air Vanuatu) – Luganville, Pekoa airport (Van-air)

What was the approximate total cost? Flights £1300 (round the world ticket is the cheapest option), plus £120 internal return flights, accommodation £300 (at Beachfront Resort not in the hospital), living costs approximately £100 per week.

Is there any other information that you think may be useful?

We were told not to book our internal flight from Port Vila (the capital of Vanuatu on Efate island) to Espiritu Santo until we arrived at Port Vila airport following our international flight from Brisbane…..This is NOT a good idea! The airport staff were shocked that we has not got our onward flight and it was a hassle to sort it out in the departure area of Port Vila airport.

Since we returned, I believe you can now fly direct from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo (Pekoa airport) and therefore miss out having to stop over in Port Vila.

Visit the active volcano on Tanna island instead of spending time in Port Vila. We didn’t and wish we had!

Report 4

Reporter: Gareth Thomas

Contact at destination: Lester Evans (best to phone the hospital rather than email

Year of visit: 2009

Country:Region: Santo

Institution: Northern District Hospital

Department: General Medicine & Surgery

Work / Study undertaken: I did a mix of general medicine and surgery. Ward rounds were useful to attend and surgery was also interesting to see. You are given the freedom to chose what you would like to do when you get there. There is also paeds, A&E, Obs& Gynae and ophthalmology on offer.

Description of destination: The hospital itself is fairly small with around 100 beds in total and has fairly limited facilities and drug supplies although does have access to x-ray. The hospital is situated in walking distance of Luganville, the main (but still fairly small) town on the island. The island itself is beautiful and there is loads to do outside of the hospital.

Were the locals friendly: Yes unbelievably so. It is definitely worth getting to know the local ni-vans. The dive instructors are also a good laugh to hang out with.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, very. But we were a group of three guys – the girls we were with did not feel unsafe.

What did you do in your spare time ? We travelled all over the island – lots to see and do. Scuba diving is well worth doing, especially the night dive on the Coolidge- it was incredible! Best of all though was going to stay for the weekend in one of the rural villages – the cook in the hospital invited us to stay with her family.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Do some rural health medicine. Get to know the local ni-van people... they are sooo friendly and it is great to see and briefly be a part of a totally different culture.

What was the climate like? HOT! And pretty humid but the bedrooms and common room have fans and you get used it pretty quickly.

What was your accommodation like? Relatively basic but had everything you need in kitchen. Relatively expensive at £200 for the month which was more than we were expecting to pay.

Was it provided? Yes

If not who arranged it?

How much did it cost? £200 for a month !

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes! It was fantastic!

Did you find it useful medically? Yes, good hands on experience with limited resources. You can do as much or as little as you want so it is really up to you how much hospital time you put in.

Has it improved your french? Yes, I had several conversations in a mix of French and bilama and also improved my French during the first half of my elective in preparation.

Has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Definitely the Ni-van culture!

If you went back would you do anything differently? No

How did you get there? London - Auckland, Auckland – Port Vila, Port Vila- Santo – Flights.

What was the approximate total cost? Flights £1200, accommodation £200, living costs ~ £100/ week (it is quite an expensive place to live). If you scuba dive, which is definitely worth doing that is an extra £200 to learn and £40 per dive after that.

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? Make sure you have enough malaria prophylaxis, mozzie spray (DEET), sun screen and maybe antibiotics as these either are unavailable or ridiculously expensive. Also, if you have room in your luggage it is worth taking any food, alcohol you can fit in as it will save you quite a lot of money rather than buying it there. On the plus side the fruit and veg market and the butcher is great and really cheap!