Janis Tavapiqe, a concerned woman from Beiporo village in Western province. Photo credit @ Alfred Pagepitu
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THE lack of health facilities, roads, and telecommunications services in parts of the Vella La Vella Islands is causing significant concern, particularly among mothers, children, and older people, and resulting in fatalities.

Janis Tavapiqe, a concerned woman from Beiporo village, highlighted the challenges faced by her community in accessing healthcare.

She said the considerable distance they have to travel to reach the clinic facility, including crossing two rivers.

“There are also other communities within the Beiporo and Lambulambu areas that must walk long distances to access health services,” she added.

“We, especially mothers, struggle to reach healthcare services, particularly when it comes to delivering babies,” said Tavapiqe.

She mentioned that sometimes women rely on village birth attendants, while other times they receive assistance from untrained individuals, leading to fatalities, especially among infants.

The only bridge that was built in the early 80s provides access for people to cross, while several rivers in Southwest Vella Island remain without bridges. Photo credit @ Alfred Pagepitu

Tavapiqe identified the lack of reliable telecommunications as a significant problem, stating, “We often receive calls very late, which can result in the death of mothers or other relatives.”

She emphasized the urgent need for improved health services and telecommunications in rural areas.

“Some aid posts and health facilities lack medicine, and for some villages, the health facilities are far away,” she explained.

“Due to the long distances, some patients are too weak to reach the clinics.

She added, “There are no proper roads in these remote areas, and people resort to carrying the sick on dugout canoes, boats, or walking to seek medical facilities.”

Tavapiqe acknowledged that a few communities have access to health services, but there is a lack of sufficient drugs to help the rest of the population.

She expressed concern that the rural population is growing while the existing health facilities are inadequate to cater to the increasing demand.

“It is a significant problem because remote areas are not regularly patrolled or monitored by health management teams, responsible authorities, or leaders,” she said.

Tavapiqe is now calling on Members of Parliament and all candidates to prioritize addressing key issues affecting rural areas.

“I urge leaders and anyone seeking power not to neglect the issues during campaigns but to focus on the rights that have been denied to us for years,” she appealed.

Tavapiqe hopes that the newly elected leader of the South East Vella constituency will address these longstanding issues affecting rural communities in the islands.

Initially, the government planned to construct 200 towers to improve telecommunications coverage. However, due to non-commitment from landowners and the use of microwaves and repeaters, the project will now consist of 140 towers, with an estimated cost of USD 70 million.

The tower project will be managed by the newly established State-Owned Enterprise, Solomon Tower Limited (STL).

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