Life of expectant mother saved by Vanuatu’s telemedicine network

Dr Basil Leodoro speaks with Nurse Leo Steven at Naviso on his cell phone using the telemedicine network. Image: Alexis Lexy Cullen / Vanuatu Daily Post

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai heads a government delegation, including the Minister of Health, Toara Daniel, that travelled to Maewo today to attend the opening of the Maewo Telemedicine Network at Naviso Village on East Maewo.

The official opening of the pilot internet connectivity at Maewo Island’s primary healthcare facilities at Naviso tomorrow will celebrate the communities’ initiative in partnership with government and non-government entities as part of the Vanuatu Inter-Island Telemedicine and Learning Network (VITAL) pilot project.

This effort has been made possible by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, TRR, Ministry of Health, Telsat and Kacific Broadband Satellite in concert with Maewo Telecommunications Committee (Inc) (MTC).

MTC serves as the local counterpart for the project.

MTC was established to enable telecommunications access and to use it to promote health and education and to improve all areas of life for Maewo communities.

US Peace Corps volunteer Alexis Lexy Cullen, who is a big help to the Maewo community in the project, says that soon after the system came online, it was successfully used last week to save the life of a mother, who was experiencing bleeding after delivery.

She posted in her Facebook page that the telemedicine system was used and a male nurse at Naviso clinic, Steven Tahi, was able to speak with Dr Basil Leodoro, who got secondary advice for the nurse. The bleeding was stopped and the mother was saved.

‘Seeing’ the patient
Cullen quotes Dr Basil Leodoro describing his first telemedicine encounter, giving advice to Nurse Leo Steven (in between surgical cases at Northern District Hospital) as “fireworks”.

And he said being able to actually “see” the patient was such an improvement to voice only.

Tomorrow’s event will be broadcast through livestream to the world via YouTube and social media platforms.

At the same time the communities of Maewo will showcase their culture and custom at this event with traditional custom dance and singing.

Prime Minister Salwai will speak at the official opening and cut the ribbon.

Jonas Cullwick, a former general manager of the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC), is now a senior journalist with the Daily Post.

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