Who We Are
Churches of Christ Medical Santo (Medical Santo) is a Christian not-for-profit humanitarian aid organisation, registered in Vanuatu as a Charitable Association to provide Primary Health Services and support to the existing health services in Northern Vanuatu. Medical Santo is governed by an Executive Committee that oversees all aspects of the operation and ensures the medical services provided are in line with the needs of communities.
We are dedicated to working in partnership with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health to provide support and to build the capacity of local medical staff in a way which respects the local community, meets human needs both physical and spiritual, and works for a lasting change in the lives of all those we interact with.
Where It Began
Medical Santo grew out of a dream that the people living in the Northern Islands of Vanuatu could one day have access to the level of medical care that people in developed countries like Australia can call on 24 hours a day. For these communities, death and serious sickness is far too common, and family and friends are needlessly lost through illnesses that have long since been able to be treated and managed. The journey toward realising this dream began through the resources, determination and hard work of some very committed Christian families from Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand. Families who saw the need and were determined to be part of the solution.
In a single week in 2012, 26 meetings with concerned organisations, government agencies and influential people were held in Vanuatu and all encouraged the team to proceed. The concept of developing a Medical Clinic and preventive health strategies for the northern areas of Vanuatu emerged and following a successful application to the Vanuatu Government, Medical Santo became a Registered Charitable Association, Not For Profit with Vanuatu Business Registration on the 4th September 2012.
With the help of friends, supporters and businesses from Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia the team purchased and renovated a building in Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo and turned it into a Medical Clinic. A dedication service run by the Vanuatu Conference of Churches of Christ was held at the clinic on the 8th May 2013 and was attended by CEO Dean Phelan and Senior Executive Gerry Weatherall representing Churches of Christ in Qld., members of the Vanuatu Government and Community Leaders. The clinic officially opened for business on the 23rd May 2013.
2020 was a real challenge for so many around the world. The quick response from the Vanuatu Government to close the border protected the country from any outbreak of COVID 19 which has been a great blessing.
We continue to build and strengthen relationships with many local and overseas organisations that provide us with crucial support and enable us to deliver improved medical services. Through 2020 we were able to employ a a local doctor which enabled Medical Santo to continue to provide Medical Services even though we could not bring in volunteers. Our full time clinic manager has continued to provide quality management and supervision to our medical work throughout this time.
As we move into 2021 we are hopeful that Volunteers can resume traveling to Vanuatu so all the services of Medical Santo can operate at full capacity and those that have so wonderfully coped over this last year can get a well earned break. The high priority for us is to find the medical volunteers, support staff, medical and non-medical companies, organisations and individuals to partner with us in bringing quality medical services to the North .
The health services that need to be provided in the Northern Islands of Vanuatu are growing at a steady rate. We need a full time doctor to come on board which will lift our service to the next level. We are receiving many more request for services to the outer islands.
2021 will see the development of Radiology Services which are critically needed. We have a good foundation, good relationships and outstanding medical services which has put the clinic and our rural field work on a firm footing. The changes coming in 2021 will allow us to grow our capacity to a new level and service capability.
With these steps going forward, we require the ongoing support of volunteers, organisations and individuals more than ever. We invite you to be a part of this service to the Vanuatu people.
The Support Team
Allen Cox | President
Allen Cox is the President of Medical Santo and with his wife Lyn, and Keith Wilson is part of the original founders of Medical Santo.
Allen got involved with Medical Santo when he realised that he has so much medical care in Australia and that his Vanuatu friends have so little. Allen is passionate about bringing quality health care to all people in the Northern Islands of Vanuatu. Allen with the help of many others developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health that supports Medical Santo’s Mission Statement in Partnering in Sustainable Heath Solutions in Northern Vanuatu. He develops partnerships with other health care organisations to encourage cooperation and make the best use of resources and equipment. He assists with the building and construction needs of the clinic and the volunteers that make this happen.
Allen and his family first visited Vanuatu for 4 months in 1993 as volunteers and they have returned many times since with work teams to various islands. Allen and Lyn spent 4 years from 2008 as volunteers in close support of Londua Technical College on West Ambae.
Allen and his wife have owned a business on the Sunshine Coast for over 28 years employing up to 27 staff. His long term plan was to retire at 55 but God had other plans and Allen has been enjoying these new challenges. Life in God’s service is never boring and amazing.
Lyn Cox | Executive Manager
Lyn is the Senior Executive managing all aspects of the work of Medical Santo in Vanuatu and is passionate about her role and the role of Medical Santo in the community. She is also the Treasurer on the Executive Committee and a founding member. Lyn makes sure that there are resources available for all probabilities and covers the accounts, the registration and immigration requirements of Volunteers, Vanuatu Government requirements to run the business of Medical Santo and the employing of ni-Vanuatu staff and a host of other day to day issues.
Lyn is well able to make the money stretch as she has been the co-director of their family company for the past 28 years that employs between 25-30 staff in the building industry and at one time managed the business when Allen worked overseas for 7 months. She has a Diploma in Business Management and has twice been a finalist in the HIA Business Partner of the Year – in 2007 winning the Qld title. She loves numbers and hates filling out meaningless paperwork. Her most important achievements are 35 years of marriage, 3 adult sons and knowing that God loves her no matter how often she fails Him. She now also cares for extended family in Australia.
Since 1993 Lyn with her husband Allen have had significant involvement in Vanuatu, hosting many ni-Vanuatu in their home for extended periods and travelling to Vanuatu in excess of 65 times to assist where needed. Through her work with Medical Santo she now looks to changing lives in Northern Vanuatu both physically and spiritually.
Keith Wilson | Cultural Liaison Adviser
Keith Wilson provides enormous support and advice to the Medical Santo clinic, staff and Executive Committee. Keith is an original founder of Medical Santo and is one of the Executive Committee members of Churches of Christ Medical Santo inc. which is the Vanuatu registered Charitable Association called Medical Santo.
Keith and his wife Anne have owned a shipping business in Vanuatu for many years. They have a comprehensive understanding of the Vanuatu cultural life and are aware of many issues with the changing of many communities to a Western lifestyle. Keith meets with many government departments to coordinate the support, resourcing and future planning of the Medical Santo health objectives and also in the cooperation and planning we have with the Ministry of Health management and staff.
His understanding of the Vanuatu culture and processes of government assist Medical Santo to be an effective medical resource in the Northern Islands. This has opened the way for Medical Santo to provide primary health care from our clinic in Luganville, medical care to rural communities on Santo, Tutuba, and West Ambae and in the future to all Northern Islands. Keith with his wife Anne are committed Christians and a valuable link for Medical Santo relationships with many island, community and church groups.