29 Mar 2023

Pacific news in brief for March 29

1:22 pm on 29 March 2023
Vila Central Hospital

Vila Central Hospital Photo: RNZ Pacific Hilaire Bule

Vanuatu - health

Vanuatu's main Hospital, Vila Central Hospital, is facing a shortage of blood.

The Ministry of Health and the hospital are appealing to the public to donate blood, if they are healthy and meet all requirements including age and weight.

Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Vincent Atua, said the demand for blood has increased due to the number of patients after Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin, and even before the cyclones.

He said they still have ongoing surgeries, people getting sick, people referred from the islands, and mothers giving birth, which has further increased demand.

New Caledonia - crime

Reported domestic violence in New Caledonia has sharply risen after the pandemic.

The public prosecutor says per capita, family violence cases were two times more frequent than in mainland France.

Having increased more than 60 percent since 2019, he says such violence in New Caledonia is unbearable in its nature and volume.

Fiji/Pacific - domestic violence

Representatives of 13 crisis centres have gathered in Fiji to discuss a Gender-Based Violence Counsellor Training Package for the Pacific.

The centres are members of the Pacific Women's Network Against Violence Against Women.

Network chair Shamima Ali said their aim is for all female survivors across the Pacific to access uniform and consistent survivor-centered counselling from trained counsellors when they come to their centres.

New Caledonia - Paris talks

New Caledonia's FLNKS have confirmed their departure for Paris for bilateral talks.

The pro-independence coalition of parties is set to talk to the French state from April 7-15.

The statement came after it held its congress on Tuesday in Kone in the north of New Caledonia.

Secretary-general of a member group, Caledonian Union, Pascal Sawa, told La Premiere they need to discuss what happened in the referendum vote of December 21 2021, which was boycotted by the indigenous Kanak people due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The anti-independence side in its talk with France wants Paris to reintegrate New Caledonia and abolish the voting restrictions introduced with the decolonisation process under the 1998 Noumea Accord.

Vanuatu/Solomon Islands - treaty

Vanuatu and Solomon Islands Government officials have resumed talks on the Mota Lava Border Treaty.

The treaty was signed eight years ago by the two Melanesian Spearhead Group countries, and the agreed framework is intended to enhance peaceful cooperation on border arrangements.

The meeting also discussed joint management of shared ocean resources, and the facilitation of cultural and economic partnerships between the people of the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands and the Torba Province of Vanuatu.

The Mota Lava International Airport could become a transit point for international passengers from Temotu Province, now that the countries have agreed to sort out their borders in customary and traditional ways.

French Polynesia - disease

Health authorities in French Polynesia have called for vigilance and early testing to contain tuberculosis.

The call comes as figures for last year show that three people died from the disease.

There were 56 new cases detected in 2022.

More than 80 percent of them were found on the island of Tahiti.

French Polynesia - politics

French Polynesia's pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party says should it win next month's elections, it will appoint a woman as vice-president.

The party made the announcement at a news conference after long-term assembly member Eliane Tevahitua was dropped from the party's list of candidates.

She was originally chosen in second place on the list, behind the party leader Oscar Temaru, but her name was omitted when the official list was published last week.

The Tavini politician vying to become president, Moetai Brotherson, said Tevahitua would be French Polynesia's first woman vice-president.

The head of government can appoint whoever it deems suitable to the role.

Samoa - medical programme

An additional $5 million tala has been approved by the Samoa Cabinet to assist with the off-island referral medical programme.

Deputy Prime Minister Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio said 11 patients were endorsed by Cabinet for medical treatment in New Zealand.

Tuala expressed concerns about the increasing number of people requiring treatment overseas, especially those with life-threatening illnesses, and he said the government is looking at other ways to provide medical treatment locally.

To date, $16 million tala has been allocated for the programme.