Operation Castor 2014 [fr]

The renovation of the whole Tassiriki dispensary (out-patient ward and maternity ward), as well as the building of a sanitary block and staff house, have been successfully completed, as acknowledged during the hand-over ceremony on 17 June 2014. Military personnel from the FANC (French Armed Forces in New Caledonia), VMF (Vanuatu Mobile Force) and New Zealand Defence Force have spent four weeks, along with the local community, renovating these buildings in order to offer the local population of this remote area (in the south-west of Santo island) an efficient health center.

Around 3,000 inhabitants living in the area will benefit from this project which will really and significantly improve the local health facilities and access to these health and first care services for the neighbouring communities.

Thanks to the FANC and their two Casa aircrafts and a Puma helicopter all invited officials and partners could reach Tassiriki for the hand-over ceremony attended by a large number of people from the area.

The visit of the new dispensary took place in the presence of the French Ambassador, Michel Djokovic, the Commander in chief of the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC), General Luc de Revel, the Director General of the Health Department, Dr Santus Wari, the New Zealand High Commissioner, Ms. Georgina Roberts, the Police Commissioner, LCL Arthur Caulton, and the representative of the Government of New Caledonia, Ms. Marie-Paule Caruso.
Official delegation (from l. to r.) : Lt col. Arthur CAULTON, Commissioner of Police ; general Luc de REVEL, commander of the New Caledonia Armed Forces ; Ms. Marie-Paule CARUSO, representative of the Government of New Caledonia ; Ms. Georgina ROBERTS, New Zealand High Commissioner in Vanuatu ; Mr Michel DJOKOVIC, French Ambassador to Vanuatu.

Every year, the Castor mission aims at fully renovating a health facility during a period of four weeks. This is done thanks to a close cooperation between the French Armed Forces of New Caledonia, the Vanuatu government through the Ministry of Health, the French Embassy and other public or private partners. Previous achievements focused on the renovation of the Silimauri health center on Tongoa in 2013, the Melsissi mini hospital on Pentecost in 2012 or the Lamap mini hospital on Malekula in 2011.

Castor operations are financed within the framework of the Regional Convention of Cooperation between France, the government of New Caledonia and Vanuatu. This year, the materials required for this project were determined during recognition missions and then bought in Luganville (Santo island) for a total amount of around 6.7 million vatu. The Government of New Caledonia also provided an additional funding of 650,000 vatu. A total of 7.4 million vatu (or 57,000 euros) was thus disbursed.

This year, around 40 French military personnel have been working in a close collaboration with 3 members of the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) and 6 engineers of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Furthermore, nothing would have been possible without the precious support of the DG Health Department in Port Vila and the Sanma Province Rural Health officers in Luganville who have coordinated the activities with the community of Tassiriki and supported the reconnaissance missions, facilitating the logistics (transport, communication)..
Tassiriki renovated dispensary

Numerous partners have been involved in what is now a genuine regional operation. The chief of the Tassiriki community cheerfully thanked all the donors and particularly UNELCO company, the leading company for water and electricity supply in Vanuatu, who donated the new electricity system, consisting of a hybrid generator (made of solar panels and diesel) and providing light in the wards and cool storage of medicines and vaccines.

Ambassador Djokovic also acknowledged the help provided by the Rotary Club from New Caledonia in sending two pallets of first aid equipment and other donations collected in New-Caledonia (clothes, games etc.). Moreover, for the first time this year, the Ratua Foundation joined the Castor team and handed over 200 bags full of school items to the delight of Marama School pupils.

During these four weeks, the FANC have proposed movies and sport sessions in the schools, played music with local ‘string bands’, organized medical campaigns for all communities, repaired boat engines, fixed the Tassiriki water gravity system etc. These four weeks will be remembered for a long time by all participants. This development project goes far beyond a pure logistics operation. It reinforces the partnership between different actors and allows the military personnel to create strong bonds with the communities.

The Director General of the Health Department, Dr Santus Wari, expressed his deep thanks to the French authorities and all the other partners for their meaningful support in the health sector. All partners conveyed their willingness to organize further Castor missions in the years ahead to contribute to the development of Vanuatu.

Tassiriki dispensary before renovation works

Tassiriki maternity ward

Donation from New Caledonia Rotary Club

After the inauguration

Published on 25/08/2014

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