Pango’s Paramount Chief Rolland Maseiman and his Council of Chiefs, custom landowner of the site on which the Dr. K.B.Kaluat Memorial Community Health Centre is built, and the Minister of Health and his staff, celebrated the opening of the classic facility last week as a classic example of Private Public Partnership (PPP) initiative.
Chief Maseiman praised the Project Coordinator, Marik Talikon, Lionel Kaluat, who is a member of his Council, for breaking down traditional barriers to fulfill a long held request for such a facility by the forefathers of Pango.
Minister of Health Jack Norris Kalmet said the village’s major health initiative proves that “health is everybody’s business”.
“The commitment of the Government is to provide an equitable and accessible health care service to our people that High God has blessed us with to fulfill the Government’s Health Policy to decentralise healthcare down to the doorstep of our people”, the Minister said.
He acknowledged late Dr. Kaluat’s pioneering health commitment not only to the people of Port Vila but to the people of Santo, Malekula, the Shepherds Islands and Tanna.
“The Government will assist this health facility to ensure there are health resources available here to reduce the busy services of the main referral hospital – Vila Central Hospital as well as private health services in Port Vila”, the Minister said.
The Health Centre will have a nurse practitioner, a general nurse to provide outpatient services, a midwife including two nurses from the Solomon Islands.
The staff will all be paid by the Government including their housing allowances and the Health Acting Director General, Johnson Wabaiat has appealed to the people of Pango Village to make available rooms for the medical staff to rent.
Coordinator of the first such health project to return to the village after almost 40 years, Lionel Kaluat, has declared to the packed tent marking the official opening as a “milestone” and long held dream of their forefathers who wept for such a project without seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.
Past political leaders from the village turned a blind ear to their request.
Holding up a book with the title “Fasting” above his head, the former Commissioner of Labour turned devoted Christian, Kaluat said the contributions that poured in towards the construction of the building proves that “Jesus is alive and the Bible is true”.
Kaluat stressed that the book which he holds spells out the step by step faith applications to follow after which God provides everything towards the project in line with 2 Chronicles Chapter 7:14
The devoted Christian said God has heard and provided according to his prayers. “I am not a carpenter but look at the smooth walls of the building”, he said pointing at the nearest wall.
“God worked through the boys from Emae we sent to New Zealand under RSE and to Australia under Seasonal Work Programme (SWP)”, he said.
“On their return home, they came to me and said, ‘Lionel, we want to say thank you for helping us. What do you want us to do?’ so I asked them to plaster the wall and they did at no cost, we only provided them with meals”.
Asked what inspired him and his wife and children to chip in their time and resources towards the start of the magnificent health facility, he spoke with words to the effect that he followed his father doctor as a child through his health pioneering days and was influenced by his father’s commitment to help those in need of his services. “If he was operating on a patient, he would send us to hurry to fetch his tools which we did and my focus began to build towards what I, as his son, should do to help the people of my village and Vanuatu to remember my father by”, he recalled.
The least he could do was to invest a substantial slice of his severance pay on his retirement from public service, to proceed with funding the construction of the health project which eventually reached an approximate maximum of Vt8 million, thanks to further assistance from other generous friends and donors.
But why does the Coordinator fly the Israeli Flag? It has nothing to do with funding the facility but the fact that the God that he and his family worship is the God of Israel.
To all landowners in Pango, Efate and beyond, he said what he and his family have done for their Paramount Chief and his Council, is to provide a facility for quality health service to the people including the surrounding hotels and resorts located at Pango. “This form of positive development should be something for all landowners in the country to strive to emulate to benefit their people”, he said.
The Coordinator said he knew that if he could prove to the Government that he was capable of meeting at least 50% of the costs, this would convince the Government to contribute towards its completion. “The Government signed a Memorandum of Agreement with us to supply medicine and the necessary staffing and even agreed to cover the costs of everything here. Indeed, thank you so much to the Minister of Health and his Team”, he added.
“This is a role model concept which can be replicated in those villages which still have no health facilities for their people. We are entering a modern health era because the Acting DG of Health spoke of an ultra-medical service that is going to be provided, which means we are going to see included inside the Centre perhaps some sophisticated machines for treatment purposes”.
The Coordinator was in Government and was on the staff that drew up the Government NSDP (National Strategic Development Plan) and one of them was to do with resilience in the Environment Pillar. “This is why I took into consideration resilience and included even cyclone shutters because prevention is better than cure, in case of cyclone, the entire building is walled off with cyclone shutters to shut down the health facility during times of cyclone to safeguard medicines and every equipment inside”, he continued.
“These days, disastrous cyclones are tearing at our homes and islands almost every year so what we have produced is like Noah’s Ark, to keep everything safe inside for use after any calamity has hit.”
The Health Centre is located on the right side of the road just beyond the village soccer field. You cannot miss the name on the roof outside the building.