A parade through the main street of Port Vila, the capital city of the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, heralded the start of Adventist Health Week, which included the city’s first-ever health expo.
The Vanuatu Mobile Force Brass Band led the parade, which also featured students from Epauto Adventist Senior Secondary School, representatives from the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Vanuatu Mission office staff, church members, school teachers, and an ambulance from Vila Central Hospital.
Vanuatu Ministry of Health director general George Taleo and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) were among guests to the opening program.
Taleo acknowledged the work being carried out by the Adventist Health Ministries department and said he would do everything in his power to support the initiative.
“I would like to support Health Week annually,” he said. “The event has now become part of the Ministry of Health business plan as one of the programs to combat non-communicable diseases.”
Port Vila’s first-ever health expo, held June 18-20, 2019 in Faiwa Park, had the theme “Prevention is better than cure.” Adventist Health partnered with the national Ministry of Health and Vila Central Hospital to provide essential health information, food sales, and health screenings for the public. Various church and non-profit groups ran booths on the premises, including the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Hope Books, the Adventist Welfare Society, and the Blood Bank of Vanuatu.
Organizers reported that the topics covered at the booths included diabetes, food safety, the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), antibiotic resistance awareness, tobacco and drug laws, oral health, practical lifestyle choices, mental health and wellness, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, and neglected tropical diseases.
Other activities included morning exercise sessions, a display by the ambulance and paramedics’ service, interviews with leading national health professionals, evening praise and worship sessions, short concerts featuring Adventist music groups and artists, and film screenings.
“The Adventist Health department praises God for the support and participation seen throughout the program,” Adventist Health director Phalguni James said. "Many lives were touched, and we hope to bring healing and hope to more people through the health ministry.”
James noted that every day of the event, Faiwa Park was filled with people hungering to know more about health and hope.
“Many people saw the connection between our health and spiritual lives because never before has a church run public health programs other than just screenings,” he said.
James also said Adventist leaders are looking forward to similar but bigger events like this in the future.
“We hope we can run more health expos on large scales, not just in Port Vila, but all around Vanuatu,” James said. “It is something that can be possible with the help and participation of local churches and their communities.”