Non-communicable Disease on the Rise in Sanma

There is a recent surge in Non-Communicable Disease in Sanma due to; a rapid adoption of sedentary western lifestyles, high calorie diets, a silent unscreened population and delayed presentations due to belief In traditional healers and suspicion/fears of conventional medicine.

Recent visits to Hog-Harbour and South Santo revealed that up to 30% of the population have High blood pressure. There are 4 Diabetic Foot amputations per month at the Northern Provincial Hospital and Cancer cases present in the palliative stage.

Infectious diseases are equally a big problem with control programmes proving difficult to roll out due remote populations and rugged terrain. Tuberculosis, Yaws, Filiarisis and Malaria control programmes are being hampered by inability to traverse rugged terrain and logistical constraints.

Meningitis is prevalent with 3-4 paediatric admissions per month at the hospital alone and there are a large number of admission for infectious illnesses such as abscesses and pneumonia.

Incomplete and low immunization coverage of children in Sanma Province means there is a potential for large and devastating outbreaks of preventable illnesses such as :measles, rubella, Pertussis and Diphteria. National efforts to decrease vertical transmission of Hepatitis B are also being affected.

There are numerous correctable surgical and congenital conditions in the community. From recent visits; Hernias, goiters, and other conditions are affecting the quality of life of people. There are numerous congenital conditions such as club-foot, Hydroceole, undescended testes that could be addressed with outreaches.


Medical care and Public Health activities are run in a separate and somewhat fragmented manner by the 3 key service providers; Northern Provincial Hospital , Sanma rural Health, and Santo Medical .

At a joint meeting between the three parties, it was decided to rally personnel and resources under a single banner for the purpose of integrated screening and management of illnesses through outreaches in remote populations.Thus, the Northen Health Outreach was created.

The Northern Health Outreach is a collaborative effort between clinicians from the Northern Provincial Hospital, Medical Santo and Sanma Rural Health. The ambit of the group is to provide primary health care in Sanma Province in the form of regular outreaches to remote and rural communities. The group has decided to focus on remote and rural communities because these communities are more prone to disease than others due to limited access to health care facilities.

The Northern Health Outreach is in its nascent stages. It is currently in the stages of developing a comprehensive charter outlining its activities. In the interim, the Northern Health Outreach has the following key objectives; (1) To screen and register all new NCD cases in Sanma Province (2) To review known NCD cases and provide optimal care and integrated management across all 3 service providers, (3) To enhance eradication programmes of yaws, T.B and other infectious illnesses, (4) To identify patients needing specialist care, provide on-site treatment (where appropriate)or refer patients through official referral channels.

The Northern Health Outreach aims to visit no less than 7 villages in the next 3 months. It recently visited Vulesepe in South Santo in mid-December (screening close to 60 villagers and finding numerous undiagnosed NCD’s)

The Northern Health Outreach does not have a formal budget and runs on pooling of resources between the three providers. Each provider has separate budgeting constraints and their own respective core activities to focus.

As such, there are significant budgetary constraints. The Northern Health Outreach invites all benefactors who desire to uplift health care in Sanma province to contact the group.

For further information please contact:

Medical Santo:info@medicalsanto.com,
Sanma rural Health: eiavro@vanuatu.gov.vu
Northern Provincial Hospital :stvurobaravu@vanuatu.gov.vu