Remote Vanuatu Island Aneityum is on track for a happy and healthy new year with the opening of a new medical facility this week.
With only one barge a month bringing supplies to the “last island in Vanuatu”, the much-needed dispensary took six months to build and is the biggest project to date for the P&O Pacific Partnership – a collaboration between Save the Children and Australia’s leading cruise line P&O Cruises.
Members of the 1000-strong island community joined health care workers and Save the Children staff at the official opening on January 20. Many had been involved in the construction process, hauling bags of cement and coral from a transport barge and digging the holes for the building’s foundation.
Located in the southernmost Tafea province, Aneityum is the home community to nearby Mystery Island, one of P&O Cruises’ most popular South Pacific destinations.
The P&O Pacific Partnership gives the cruise line and its passengers an opportunity to support island communities who have been welcoming P&O ships and their guests for more than 80 years.
The partnership has raised more than $700,000 since its launch in January 2013 with four projects - two kindergartens, an aid post and the dispensary – completed during that time.
More than $270,000 from the partnership was spent replacing the pre-1970s facility on Aneityum raising the healthcare standards on the island to include a consultancy room, treatment room, in-patient room, delivery room for maternity services, a waiting area and new storage facilities and equipment. After three years without power, the dispensary will once again offer electricity, this time from solar panels.
Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said it was important to leave a positive footprint in the communities the cruise line visited.
“The Pacific Partnership offers a tangible and heart-warming way for P&O Cruises and its passengers to give back to the island communities that have provided an idyllic backdrop for so many cherished holiday memories,” Ms Sherry said.
Country Director of Save the Children Vanuatu Tom Skirrow said the dispensary would provide improved healthcare outcomes for about 1800 patients on Aneityum every year.
“We are looking at inter-generational improvements that will be realised for decades to come,” Mr Skirrow said.
The P&O Partnership has committed to building up to eight new aid posts in Vanuatu over the next two years.
P&O Cruises’ guests support the P&O Pacific Partnership by contributing a dollar from their onboard accounts or participating in the 'Born to Knit' program, which is now exclusive to the cruise line and sees knitted blankets donated to newborns at Vila Central Hospital. The P&O Pacific Partnership is part of Carnival Australia’s ongoing charity program, Carnival Cares, which also supports Lifeline Australia.