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Penama Health authorities in Vanuatu say there have been no deaths directly related to the ash fall on Ambae.
However, they have confirmed ailments such as eye irritations, influenza type illness and other respiratory complaints.
The provincial health authorities refuted the claims of some deaths resulting from the ash fall on social media in a statement, and at the same time provided update on the health response underway on the ground.
So far, Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) have distributed health, hygiene and sanitation kits to 643 people in 11 evacuation centers in east Ambae.
Distributions of health kids and WASH kits to 407 households in north Ambae will continue in the coming weeks. Tahimamavi, Loone, Lolosori, Lolovenue, Lolovimataboe, Lovuibini, Lolopuepue, Lolovange, Ambanga and Lombaha are some of the affected communities.
The thickness of ash which begun falling in these areas from April 10 to 11, is said to be 10 to 15cm. Those near the volcano suffer significant damage.
EMTs have also reached Waluriki and distributed health kits and WASH materials to victims of the Waluebue landslide.
They conducted health awareness, provided medical evacuations, mental health and psychosocial support, maternal and child health, disease surveillance, immunisations, water, sanitation and hygiene.
Regarding ash related illnesses, PENAMA Health Authorities said they will continue to monitor the situation carefully over the coming weeks.
“Residents have been advised to use masks and appropriate eye care when exposed to ash,” PENAMA Health Authorities stated.
“All water sources must be protected and any drinking water must be chlorinated, filtered and/or boiled before consumption.
“Individuals with existing respiratory conditions were advised to avoid being exposed to ash”.
Following the major ash fall, Sanma EMTs were deloyed to Nduindui Health Centre and Lolowai Hospital to assist in the health disaster response.
Lolowai Hospital is operating without outpatient, emergency and in-patient care. Any urgent referrals or evacuations will follow routine evacuation pathways to Northern Provincial Hospital or Vila Central Hospital.
So far, three patients have been medevac'd to NPH for non-ash-related emergencies.
The Penama Health EOC is compiling a database for people with disability, to ensure they receive appropriate attention and care.
It is in direct communication witH national Health EOC, health partners, PENAMA Province and Penama Disaster and Climate Change Committee to ensure health response on the ash fall is effective and well-coordinated.
Meanwhile, the Penama Provincial Government Council (PPGC) agreed in a ceremony Monday to secure land at Saratama on Ambae for families displaced by the volcanic ash, despite a declaration of state of emergency on the whole island last Thursday.
Daily Post was informed the occasion marked the first installment of Vt1million (US$949,000) to landowners of Saratamata, for an extension to the Saratamata subdivision.
The Provincial Government Council is looking at making similar arrangements and payments for land on west Ambae.
PPGC declared that off-island relocation is the last option for its people who have chosen to remain on their island and live with the challenges of an active volcano, the Daily Post has been told.
Ambaens need to be more resilient to climate change and its impacts, said PPGC President, Alban Garaevui.
“My council has made the decision to be proactive and to invest in the future of all Ambaens," he said. "We are looking to purchase similar land in the western part of Ambae for our displaced families this week.
“We are strong. We have seen suffering in our time, which goes beyond what our past generations had to endure.
“Today (Monday) we are making an investment for a better future.
“We are working very closely with the national government to ensure the safety and health of our people. We welcome the assistance of our partners to realise the implementation of the Saratamata extension.
“We have set our future. We do not want to leave our home.”
The signing was also a gesture of provincial leadership and resilience by the Penama provincial Government.
Landowner Stevenson Vusilai said,"The signing seals our commitment to our people’s health, their livelihood and their future”.
He added: "Our land is our life.
“I have agreed to support the provincial government to provide this land for our displaced families from south, east and north Ambae to settle on.
"Our families have lost their crops and animals.
“Unlike them, we here at Saratamata have land that is available for them to start new gardens and new homes.
“We cannot be happy when our families are suffering”.
The PPGC has been distributing food, health and water kits to affected communities through its various clusters and to date has supplied over 700 kits.
It is understood that NDMO officers will be on the ground in the next couple of days to assist in the disaster response.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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