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Bridging Health Inc.
Unit 2/20 Byrne Street
If you are seeking to make a donation to this great, tax deductible cause, please use the direct debit details below:
Bank of Queensland
Account Name: Bridging Health Inc
BSB: 124001 Account: 21959342
The Next Trip
For current information, go to the Downloads section.
“My name is Riccardo Yasso (more commonly known as Ricco), and I am the President of Bridging Health Incorporated. I am a born and bred Queenslander, who has lived in Rockhampton for the past 30 years. I am a Carpenter and Concreter by trade, but have worked as a Corrective Services Officer for the past 15 years. I am the fifth generation of Australians descendants of a chief, taken from Tanna island, Vanuatu, to work as a slave in Northern Queensland in the late 1800’s. About ten years ago, I returned to Vanuatu for the first time, and was shocked to realise the desperate need the people had for basic health and wound care. Determined to see them receive the health care they needed, I teamed up with other like-minded individuals and the charity, Bridging Health Incorporated, was founded. Each year we lead teams into rural and remote areas of Vanuatu with teams of Australian medical professionals, students and non-medical volunteer support, to deliver this much needed health care. The experience of delivering health services to those who otherwise could not access it, and seeing their gratitude, is an unparalleled joy, and one I hope you get to experience too!”
President, Bridging Health Inc
0475 245 163
Born in Esperance, WA, Michelle Thomson lived the majority of her childhood and youth in the Pilbara (northern WA).
“The past 26 years I have lived in Kalgoorlie, and over that time have worked with a number of not-for-profit organisations and community groups whose focus is families and children. I am currently working as an administrator of a local not-for-profit organisation who operates and oversee a variety of services that strengthen community and offer support to families. I have always had a heart for the underprivileged, oppressed and ‘invisible’, and have been on several overseas missions trips to work among the poor.
I fell in love with the Vision of Bridging Health, when I heard that they were bringing health to the poor via the community of Australian volunteers, selflessly offering their skills and talents to improve the quality of life for others less fortunate than themselves. The goals of Bridging Health Inc, which rely on those volunteers, are both realistic and achievable, and I am thrilled to be part of the Committee that is seeing Tannese lives and community changed through the love, care and encouragement of our Australian volunteers.”
Secretary, Bridging Health Inc
0484 637 176
TANNA ISLAND, VANUATU
…All you need to know…
Tanna Island is one of Vanuatu’s most southern remote islands. On a mobile health clinic trip, as well as working hard, you will have plenty of time to discover its amazing culture, fantastic scenery, beautiful beaches, waterfalls and memorable sunsets.
- Vanuatu is shaped like the letter ‘Y’ and is comprised of 83 islands.
- The population of Vanuatu is approximately 273,000 and is predominantly Christian. Visitors are welcome to attend Sunday church services across the country.
- Vanuatu’s traditional handicrafts include carving, painting, weaving and potting.
Tanna Island Facts
- Tanna Island is approximately 2400km east of Cairns, Queensland Australia. It is approximately 40km long and 19km wide.
- The population of Tanna is around 30,000.
- Tanna means “earth”, which is very fitting as it is an island of dirt roads, and being remote, is remarkably untouched.
- The capital of Tanna Island is Isangel, which is located on the west side of the island near the popular town called Lenakel. This is where the island’s only and very under- resourced hospital is located.
- The highest peak on Tanna is Mount Tukosmera, standing at 1,084m high. Tanna is also home to Mount Yasur which is an active volcano and one of the island’s major tourist attractions. No visit to Tanna is complete without a visit to the fiery volcano.
- Tanna life is very traditional and relaxed. In some parts of Tanna, children do not go to school and clothing is minimal.
- Summer falls between November and March with temperatures of around 28 degrees Celsius. Summer is hot and humid but with a cool ocean breeze. April to September temperatures are around 23 degrees Celsius. The wet season is November to April which is normally when the wild weather hits and has in the past brought tropical cyclones into the region.
- Tanna was first settled by Melanesians in 400BC, and first visited by Captain James Cook in 1774. It was Captain Cook who gave the island its name.
For those who are travelling with us to Tanna Island, we will supply an up-to-date Travel Information Booklet with lots of additional information relevant to each Bridging Health Working Holiday Trip.
Free Health Clinics
Bridging Health’s initial solution to the challenges faced by the Tanna community was to provide health care to the Tanna
Island community via free health clinics. These clinics took place once or twice a year, with a contingent of Australian Health Care workers plus support crew. They operated a mobile health clinic out of the town of Lenakel at the local hospital, and also in villages across the island.
The aim was for the team to carry out the clinic for one week with time also being spent undertaking a comprehensive fact find through visiting remote locations on the island to ascertain the full extent of need. Non-medical support crew accompanied each mobile health clinic to assist with basic tasks, recording and documenting the work being done and most importantly to reach out to key local
stakeholders. The role of non-medical volunteers is critical to the smooth operation of the Clinics.
The 2015 mission involved ten Bridging Health team members spending 8 days on Tanna, working in partnership with local staff at Lenakel Hospital, delivering the following services:
A wound care clinic;
One education session for local health care workers about wound care;
Provided a range of wound care dressings and medical supplies;
Visiting local villages to assess standards of health care;
Met with a variety of government and not-for-profit organisations to assess who is already providing health care, and what services are available.
How does a mobile health clinic work?
The mobile health clinic has been designed to deliver care independently, but in partnership with local Tanna health services. As resources are hard to come by locally, we provide all of our own health care items for the clinics. One exception to this is pharmaceuticals. As the legalities of importing pharmaceuticals
into Vanuatu is prohibitive, we have established a partnership with Lenakel Hospital, which has allowed us to use locally sourced pharmaceuticals for our clinics.
This will become critical in subsequent visits as we plan to include a doctor or health practitioner as part of all future clinic teams.
Consideration and plans are being made to ensure that the assistance provided by Bridging Health is helpful to the local community, and does not in any way, infringe on the finite resources that the local agencies have available. In other words, with the exception of pharmaceuticals, we come fully equipped.
A pre-treatment area is established at each clinic location for patients to be welcomed and prepared for being attended to by our
doctors and nurses. Some team members are allocated administrative roles to take patient details and usher them to the health care professional they will be seen by.
The clinic is generally made available from 10am until 4pm, however, some days these hours are extended to accommodate for the volume of people attending the clinic.
About Bridging Health
To improve health care in underdeveloped countries, beginning with Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
To create a healthier tomorrow
Registration and the formation of Bridging Health
Bridging Health Inc. formed in 2012, after Ricco Yasso, a descendant of Vanuatu, approached Australian nursing student, Sherrie Lee, to request her assistance in providing health care to communities on Tanna Island.
The initial need was identified after seeing local village children playing with infected leg wounds, and subsequently making enquiries about local services available to treat them. The enquiries uncovered a dire shortage of health care facilities and services necessary to enable effective wound healing, but more importantly, uncovered a much deeper need for primary health care on Tanna Island.
Following this initial observation, planning commenced to develop a charity to meet the community’s need for basic health care. This vision of aiding less fortunate communities by offering health care in a tropical location by visiting qualified health care professionals instigates a healthier future for time forgotten communities.
In order to deliver the most appropriate health care to the community, the following five elements guide our vision:
1. Education – improve basic health care knowledge in local communities
2. Resources – provide appropriate supplies to local communities to improve health care
3. Sustainability – ensure continuous improvement of health care
4. Empowerment – inspire local health care professionals to influence health care change
5. Relevance – ensure solutions are relevant to local communities
For much more detailed information, please download our information booklet in the Downloads section of this site.