I am on a one year placement with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) here in Vanuatu, in South Pacific, 2000 km east of Australia between the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The country consists of 80 islands, 68 of which are uninhabited. The population is less than 200,000, consisting of mainly Melanesians with a few Polynesians. The weather is tropical; in the rainy season, which coincides with UK winter, temperatures reach 30-34 C and humidity of 85-90%.
I am based in Lolowai Bay Hospital in the northern Penama Province, made up of the islands of Ambae, Maewo and Pentecost. The bay is formed from an extinct volcanic crater, and has to be the most beautiful setting for a hospital anywhere in the world.
I am the only doctor in the Province, serving a population of 24,000 with the aid of a 31 bed hospital and 26 staff, including 14 nurses and a small operating theatre where I carry out minor operations, including closed reductions of fractures, incision and drainage of abscesses and the occasional Caesarean sections.