Kacific and 3 Link roll out broadband satellite service to 118 health clinics across Vanuatu
Internet connectivity aims to lower maternal mortality rates in Vanuatu
Vanuatu, 27 April 2021 – The Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Health along with satellite operator Kacific Broadband Satellites Group and its service provider in Vanuatu, 3 Link Communications, have begun to roll out the Health Project, a programme to bring fast broadband to health clinics and communities across the Republic of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu’s Minister of Health, Silas Bule Melve said, “We are delighted to work with Kacific Broadband Satellites Group and 3 Link to achieve the goals of the country’s Universal Access Policy and to begin to implement the Council of Ministers decision to deploy 200 VSAT terminals to connect clinics.”
The Minister of Health said the Health Project will address key connectivity challenges in health facilities throughout the country through the implementation of 3 Link’s 118 Clinic Broadband Program with the Ministry of Health. “The Ministry looks forward to seeing the real benefits to health workers and health facilities in Vanuatu, reducing communication challenges and, importantly, maternal mortality in isolated and rural Vanuatu.”
He said Kacific and 3 Link will play a key role in providing this important and timely solution to ensure that all communication between health facilities improve, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not only will we connect our health workers, but also the people of Vanuatu will have access to high-speed network during this time of COVID-19. It is a priority for my Ministry to ensure all are given access to clear and urgent information about COVID-19, which people need to know without delay,” reiterated Minister Bule.
“This is a milestone for the Government and the people of Vanuatu and will be a new chapter in the lives of all health workers and facilities in Vanuatu,” emphasized Minister Bule.
Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux, praised the innovative approach adopted by the Ministry of Health: “It is clear that the Ministry recognizes that by providing connectivity for an essential service like healthcare, they can, at the same time, establish internet infrastructure to enhance the overall well-being of entire communities. This creates economic opportunities, improves social cohesion, and links families with their loved ones.
“Kacific’s satellite internet service is designed to provide an affordable and accessible service to people in very remote areas,” he adds. “Vanuatu will provide a textbook example of how even a single point of connectivity, provisioned for a single application, can easily be extended to generate a rapid and lasting transformative effect across an entire community.”
In addition, 3 Link CEO, Millie Ogden, said the availability of reliable connectivity will also contribute to improving, upgrading, and strengthening communication between health workers in Port Vila and Santo and all health facilities around Vanuatu.
Ms. Ogden said this service will enable the Ministry of Health to enhance and up skill health workers in clinics, enable and provide access to online training, help roll out priority programs, assist and support logistics around essential supplies, enable and identify remote diagnoses by experts and provide real-time advice for emergency procedures.
“We want to assist and address key challenges faced by health workers and communities living around the health facilities, connecting them with those in remote areas. Until now health workers and members of the community have had to walk long distances, sometimes for many hours, to access communications networks,” said 3 Link CEO.
In support of the Health project, Chief Edward Rauh from Abwatuntora, North Pentecost praised the installation of the satellite dish installed at the Mauna Health Center in January 2021.
He said the Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Health have finally provided the service to connect health facilities, health workers and the local community at large. “Health workers, members of the community, students and particularly young people now have access. This is great for us as we can communicate out of our remote area that has been forgotten for many years.”
Mr. Rauh said in Pentecost, a registered nurse present at a childbirth was able to contact a midwife in another health dispensary urgently to assist him via satellite broadband when complications arose during the birth. The intervention by the hospital and between health workers saved both mother and child.
Kacific and 3 Link will provide the Ministry of Health equipment and broadband connection to support 118 nominated hospitals, clinics and dispensaries in Vanuatu. 3 Link has also been conducting demonstrations to familiarise healthcare workers with video conferencing.
To date, 38 satellite dishes have been installed: 18 in Espiritu Santo, 7 in Éfaté, 5 in Pentecost, and the remainder in Malo, Malekula, Tanna, Maewo, and Banks Islands.
The service also includes provision for communication assistance during natural disasters. Up to 50GB of additional data will be made available to each clinic in an affected area during the rapid response period.
In a remote part of Santo Island, 3 Link has installed community satellite WiFi stations in villages that, up until now, have been fully cut off from other forms of communication. Chairman of the Santo Sunset Environment Network, Mr. Allan Taman, confirmed that the 3 Link system provided life-saving early warning about the approach of massive ocean waves from an offshore cyclone in March 2021, that destroyed coastal buildings along the coast. “Thanks to 3 Link, we were able to evacuate low lying areas in time, and also save our boats and canoes that are the basis of our livelihoods.”
In addition to the direct benefits that the Health Project will provide to local communities, 3 Link will use the satellite dish as a platform to roll out its Community WiFi initiative in the vicinity of each clinic. This WiFi extension will function as a hotspot, allowing residents in surrounding communities to enjoy the advantages of satellite broadband connectivity through the simple purchase of a voucher.