The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as demonstrating ‘Best Practice’ in the Pacific for its efforts to improve community attitudes and action for better health.
The award was received by the Minister of Health, Jack Norris Kalmet and the Director General (DG) of Health, George Taleo, at the Pacific Health Ministers Meeting in French Polynesia.
This is the third time that Vanuatu has received this award, recognizing the commitment of the MOH to the Pacific’s Healthy Islands Vision.
This year’s award recognizes the work of the ministry to support communities in Vanuatu to take positive action to improve well-being, through the Village Health Workers Programme (VHW) supported by the Australian Government.
In 2017, the programme introduced Community Health Action Grants for communities to work with their village health workers and aid post committees to conduct projects which address their priority health needs.
The MALAMPA Provincial Health Team used the grants to support two communities on Malekula.
Communities near Hatbol Aid Post worked together to construct household ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets while the Valeta Aid Post community installed a safe, reliable water supply system.
These toilets and water systems help to create healthy physical environments, said the Health Promotion Unit Manager, Jean-Jacques Rory.
“It demonstrates the real strength of the Community Health Action Grants.
“It creates real and measurable health improvement knowledge.
“The grants encouraged village health workers and aid post committees to work with their communities to improve attitudes and behaviors which keep people healthy for life.
“We (MOH) have used innovative data collection to measure and show that the Community Health Action Grants have: encouraged VHW-led health awareness activities; improved knowledge of health promotion and disease prevention; and improved access to water and sanitation.
Director of the Public Health Department, Len Tarivonda, dedicated the achievement to the National VHW Programme Team, especially the Malampa Health Team whose successful implementation of the grants was recognized by the WHO for furthering the Healthy Islands Vision.
Dr Wendy Snowdon from WHO based in Suva, Fiji, said that the Community Health Action Grants have demonstrated all the aspects of a ‘Healthy Islands’ initiative ensuring that children are nurtured in body and mind, environments.