On 26 March 2020 the President of Vanuatu signed a declaration for a State of Emergency (SOE) over the whole of Vanuatu for a two-week period, for the purpose of strengthening prevention and containment measures in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Since April the SOE has been extended multiple times for the dual purposes of continuing COVID-19 prevention and containment measures as well as responding to Tropical Cyclone Harold which impacted Vanuatu on 6 – 7 April 2020.
On 8 July 2021 the SOE regarding COVID-19 was extended from 1 August 2021 to 31 December 2021 due to the continuous global existence of COVID-19 . These SOE Declarations allow special powers as set out in the Disaster Risk Management Act No. 23 of 2019.
The following groups have responsibility for coordinating and implementing COVID-19 preparedness and response activities in Vanuatu:
National Disaster Management Office (NDMO): national and intersectoral coordination and response management. The National COVID-19 Advisory Committee sets in place instruments of direction and regulation orders related to COVID-19 (Chair: NDMO Director).
National Cluster System: includes an Inter-Cluster (Chair: NDMO Director) and eight technical clusters (Education, Emergency Telecommunications, Food Security and Agriculture, Gender and Protection, Health and Nutrition, Logistics, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) responsible for coordinating within and between sectors.
National Health Incident Management Team: coordination and implementation of day-to-day health sector operations (Chair: MOH Director of Corporate Services, Policy and Planning).
Hospital and Provincial Health Emergency Operation Centres: day-to-day health sector operations in facilities and provinces (Chairs: respective senior management).
A Health Technical Advisory Group comprised of subject-matter experts from the Ministry of Health and development partners convenes regularly to issue technical recommendations at the request of the MOH Director of Public Health (Chair: MOH Director of Corporate Services, Policy and Planning).
Other health committees and groups meet as required regarding specific issues, such as vaccination, surveillance, and infection prevention and control.