Christina Radcliffe gives insight on health and life in Vanuatu, an isolated Pacific archipelago
“Kok blong yu i slack taem yu slip wetem woman?” I was amused to find that this long phrase stands for only one word in Vanuatu--“impotence.” Vanuatu, a little known country in the South Pacific, was my choice of elective destination. Consisting of around 80 islands, this tropical nation is home to 200 000 people. Each island, and often each village, has its own language, but the three official languages are English, French, and Bislama, a form of pidgin English. Having fewer words than English, Bislama draws on descriptive phrases that make it a very entertaining language. Since it is the day to day language of most of the people, I had a rapid learning curve to encounter before I could adequately communicate with patients.
Most of the islands have some sort of medical service, ranging from aid posts run by a nurse, to large hospitals on Espirito Santo, the