ESPIRITU SANTO, Vanuatu (NNS) -- More than 65 Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, residents attended a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief conference hosted Pacific Partnership 2011, April 30.
The conference was designed to instruct the residents on how to respond to a natural disaster and to teach them how to operate new equipment and facilities provided by Pacific Partnership 2011 projects. It also gave residents the chance to voice their opinions for future missions to the area.
"I was greatly encouraged by the fact that so many people came out on their day off to learn from the experts at the conference," said Joseph Mape, Minister of Health in Espiritu Santo.
"Natural disasters are not something that can be stopped," said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson Jr., Pacific Partnership 2011 mission commander and commodore, Destroyer Squadron 23. "The best we can do is work together to respond when a crisis occurs. That is why it is important to educate the local people on how to respond in case a natural disaster occurs."
Pacific Partnership medical experts also exchanged professional knowledge with local doctors, nurses, and student nurses, covering topics including diabetes, teen pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections, breast cancer, and the dangers of smoking.
"This exchange will help the doctors and nurses better help their community when someone gets injured or sick," said Mape. "A lot of questions that the people had were answered, and I am impressed at the expertise that Pacific Partnership experts demonstrated."
Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian aid initiative sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations. Now in its sixth year, Pacific Partnership 2011 will continue to Papua-New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia following their mission in Vanuatu.
During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 210,000 people, and completed more than 140 engineering projects in 13 countries.
"As Pacific Partnership 2011 strengthens relationships and builds new ones, this mission demonstrates U.S. commitment to the Pacific region," said Wilson.
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