Wollongong University Medical Students' Society
Wollongong University Medical Students' Society

Tanna Island Project

TIP was established in 2010 and continues to be a UoW Medical Student led initiative aimed at raising funds and providing heath and community support to the people of Tanna Island in Vanuatu.

Residing under the cloud of volcanic ash of Mt Yasur and in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam (2015) residents of Tanna are vulnerable to health risks through malnutrition, wounds and acquired infections with TB continuing to be a major health concern. In order to attend school, health clinics and obtain basic necessities locals often walk long distances, with school children walking from up to three ridges away. Tanna's only hospital continues to be severely understaffed, under-resourced and is struggling to keep up with demand. The spirit of the people however remains unbroken and we here at TIP aim to provide the basic resources and education to optimise health outcomes and support them in building a sustainable community for the future.

TIP works closely with a local community nurse named Kevin who is the TB/HIV officer on Tanna and over the years we have supplied financial aid and resources such as water filters, medical supplies and basic equipment to ensure that he and his vehicle can continue gaining access to the remote members of his island. His role is vital in combating the burden of disease by providing screening and education along with medication and supplies to those who would be otherwise isolated from any medical assistance.

In 2017 we partnered with another charity called "Tanna Projects" Since then we have developed an education initiative to support the ongoing work they do on the ground in Tanna centred around building sustainable communities. TP have been an active presence with their army of volunteers pitching in to build community huts, gardens and bicycle powered washing machines along with supplying much needed resources such as school uniforms and footwear.

In June 2018 a small team of our medical student volunteers travelled to Tanna to deliver the first instalment of the education and workshop program. We targeted key health concerns in general health & sanitation, along with men’s, women & children's health focus groups. Accompanying local health workers we assisted in community outreach programs to provide basic medical aid and to distribute much needed medical resources, visited the hospital and put ourselves to work assisting with community projects handing out food and clothing.

Key Aims:

  • Educating and training local health workers to better their existing Tuberculosis Surveillance program.
  • Raising funds to support and expand the medical infrastructure in remote areas of Tanna.
  • Visiting schools and clinics to promote health awareness and sanitation.

Check out the Tanna Island Facebook page here, or check out photos from previous years on the Tanna Island Project's instagram.

Want more info? Contact the team at tannaislandproject@gmail.com

Photos © Megan Pate