Press Release

International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team Arrives in Vanuatu

Update

April 15, 2015

After one full month of providing emergency services in Vanuatu, International Medical Corps has successfully completed its emergency response following Cyclone Pam. We deployed an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to Vanuatu within 72 hours of the disaster and began operation of a mobile medical unit (MMU) soon thereafter. Next, we deployed a second MMU to the neighboring island of Paama. Throughout the response, we provided access to primary health care and improved hygiene and safe drinking water for the entire population of Ambrym. As the only agency responding on Ambrym, we distributed emergency water, sanitation, and hygiene kits and trained local nursing staff.

As a preeminent First Responder, International Medical Corps made quick, lifesaving decisions that had an important impact on the residents of Vanuatu following the unprecedented, devastating cyclone. Overall, the emergency mission to Vanuatu has reported the following results:

Access to primary health care for the entire population Ambrym
735 direct beneficiaries (patient consultations)

Access to primary health care for the entire population of Paama
163 direct beneficiaries (patient consultations)

Provision of emergency water, sanitation and hygiene relief and hygiene promotion for the affected population of Ambrym
6490 direct beneficiaries (1298 household kits distributed)

Update

April 6, 2015

International Medical Corps was on the ground in Vanuatu within 48 hours after Cyclone Pam carved a path of destruction through the South Pacific island nation, leaving thousands without shelter, medical care, food or water. International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team (ERT) deployed to Ambrym and Paama islands, two of the most damaged locations. Our two mobile medical units performed a total of 898 patient consultations. The need for medical attention was high including management of chronic conditions, upper respiratory infections, and dental issues.

Due to rough sea conditions, our team flew two air caravans from Port Vila to Amrbym to deliver 1000 emergency water, sanitation and hygiene kits and 96,000 water purification tablets. These provisions will cover every household for the next two months. In the coming days, we will continue to distribute an additional 809 kits including chlorine tablets in north Ambrym.

 

Update

March 31, 2015

166,000 people affected on 22 islands – more than half the country’s population

11 fatalities have been reported

110,000 people are in need of clean drinking water

75,000 people are in need of emergency shelter

International Medical Corps is providing medical care and water, sanitation, and hygiene support to the survivors of Cyclone Pam on the islands of Ambrym and Paama in Vanuatu. We have performed 653 medical consultations to date in the southeast of Ambrym Island and Paama Island through two mobile medical units (MMUs). Both MMUs will move to the northern and western portion of Ambrym Island on April 1. Reports from teams on the ground in Ambrym state that water availability varies among villages as some have access to springs and others are reliant on catchment tanks which have been damaged or been contaminated with debris. Access to improved sanitation is not thought be of immediate concern as there is low incidence of diarrhea and the majority of latrines have been rebuilt. International Medical Corps is working under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Office, and in coordination with other humanitarian agencies on the ground, to help restore health service delivery to affected populations in Vanuatu.

 

Update

March 27, 2015

After Cyclone Pam, the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, caused massive damage to the island nation of Vanuatu on March 13, the Government of Vanuatu declared a state of emergency. Two Vanuatu islands, Amrybm and Paama, were severely damaged and International Medical Corps is the only NGO providing medical care on these islands. It has been reported that nearly 100% of homes sustained heavy or total damage in Ambrym and 35% of houses were destroyed in Paama. Food stores are extremely limited and some water sources may be contaminated. The pre-existing health services capacity in the area was low and there are no doctors present in southeast Ambrym or neighboring Paama.

In response, International Medical Corps is operating two mobile medical units (MMUS) on the islands of Ambrym and Paama. The MMUs have performed over 250 health consultations as of March 27 and are mostly treating upper respiratory infections and chronic conditions. International Medical Corps will send 1,100 family hygiene kits, 2,200 jerrycans and 175,000 chlorine tablets this week to Ambrym, which will support all affected families in the north and west of the island for the next month. We aim to deliver primary health care services, support improved hygiene practices, and provide safe drinking water for the entire population of Ambrym until the situation can normalize. International Medical Corps is working closely with the government and other organizations to provide relief and recovery and ultimately create a more resilient Vanuatu.

 

Update

March 19, 2015

The International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team (ERT), which includes medical, logistics and information technology experts, continues to work with local government officials to assess the situation and identify ways in which we can best help.

On Ambrym, the homes of approximately 1,700 people were damaged, and the supply of available drinking water has been affected, as tanks used to gather rain water were destroyed. After an assessment mission identified the need to increase health care capacity on the island of Ambrym, International Medical Corps was asked to deploy mobile medical units, comprised of doctors, nurses and support staff, to the island. These units will augment the existing health facility by enabling health services to reach isolated villages and increasing capability to respond to possible disease outbreaks and other public health threats.

According to early assessment reports, the southern Vanuatu Island Tanna sustained the most damage and the needs are expected to be very high. Efate Island, where the capital of Port Vila is located, also sustained significant damage with 90 percent of structures destroyed or damaged and over 2,000 people are seeking shelter.

International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team Arrives in Vanuatu

March 16, 2015

In the wake of Super Cyclone Pam, which ravaged Vanuatu on March 13 and 14, experts from International Medical Corps have arrived in the hard-hit capital city of Port Vila. Rapid assessments of the situation are now underway, but early reports indicate much of the city was damaged by the storm. Homes and buildings have been destroyed, food and clean water is limited in many locations, and health services are non-existent or limited.

“We are working closely with the Government of Vanuatu to identify ways we can best help those who have been devastated by this powerful cyclone,” said Rabih Torbay, International Medical Corps’ Senior Vice President of International Operations. “We already have response personnel in Port Vila, and we are mobilizing relief supplies and additional staff, which will likely be needed given initial reports from the capital and outlying islands.”

Logistics will be a significant challenge for this response effort, as Vanuatu is an archipelago comprised of more than 80 islands in the South Pacific Ocean about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia. The effects of Cyclone Pam, including flooding, debris-strewn roads, and bridges washed out by the tidal surge, are hampering early relief efforts. Further complicating the response, electricity is out in many places, and communication systems are down or are unreliable.

International Medical Corps is working in support of the Government of Vanuatu and in coordination with the international humanitarian community to rapidly assess the situation in Port Vila and plans to assess additional locations in the days to come. The organization has responded to every major natural disaster of the last 30 years including the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami and the 2013 Philippines typhoon.