Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health has partnered with Kacific and its local service provider 3 Link Communications to deploy the Health Project, a programme to bring fast broadband to health clinics and communities across Vanuatu.
Health Minister Silas Bule Melve noted that the initiative was in line with the country’s Universal Access Policy, and would see 200 VSAT terminals deployed to connect clinics to address key connectivity challenges in health facilities.
“The Ministry looks forward to seeing the real benefits to health workers and health facilities in Vanuatu, reducing communication challenges and, importantly, maternal mortality in isolated and rural Vanuatu”, said Bule.
“Not only will we connect our health workers, but also the people of Vanuatu will have access to high-speed networks during this time of COVID-19. It is a priority for my Ministry to ensure all are given access to clear and urgent information about COVID-19, which people need to know without delay,” added Bule.
Kacific CEO Christian Patouraux said: “It is clear that the Ministry recognises that by providing connectivity for an essential service like healthcare, they can at the same time establish internet infrastructure to enhance the overall well-being of entire communities. This creates economic opportunities, improves social cohesion, and links families with their loved ones.”
“Kacific’s satellite internet service is designed to provide an affordable and accessible service to people in very remote areas,” added Patouraux. “Vanuatu will provide a textbook example of how even a single point of connectivity, provisioned for a single application, can easily be extended to generate a rapid and lasting transformative effect across an entire community.”
3 Link CEO,Millie Ogden added that the availability of reliable connectivity will also contribute to improving, upgrading, and strengthening communication between health workers in Port Vila and Santo and all health facilities around Vanuatu.
Ogden said this service will enable the Ministry of Health to enhance and up skill health workers in clinics, enable and provide access to online training, help roll out priority programs, assist and support logistics around essential supplies, enable and identify remote diagnoses by experts and provide real-time advice for emergency procedures.
“We want to assist and address key challenges faced by health workers and communities living around the health facilities, connecting them with those in remote areas. Until now health workers and members of the community have had to walk long distances, sometimes for many hours, to access communications networks,” said Ogden.
Chief Edward Rauh from Abwatuntora, North Pentecost said that the installation of a satellite dish at the Mauna Health Center in January 2021 meant that “health workers, members of the community, students and particularly young people now have access. This is great for us as we can communicate out of our remote area that has been forgotten for many years.”
Kacific and 3 Link will provide the Ministry of Health equipment and broadband connection to support 118 nominated hospitals, clinics and dispensaries in Vanuatu. 3 Link has also been conducting demonstrations to familiarise healthcare workers with video conferencing.
To date, 38 satellite dishes have been installed: 18 in Espiritu Santo, 7 in Éfaté, 5 in Pentecost, and the remainder in Malo, Malekula, Tanna, Maewo, and Banks Islands. The service also includes provision for communication assistance during natural disasters. Up to 50GB of additional data will be made available to each clinic in an affected area during the rapid response period.