South East Wales

Dr Les Ala returns to Vanuatu after 'heartbreaking' disaster

Dr Les Ala Image copyright Dr Les Ala
Image caption After hearing of the disaster, Dr Ala said he had to return and "do something practical" to help

A south Wales consultant worked around the clock, treating hundreds of patients and repairing medical equipment in devastated parts of Vanuatu.

Cyclone Pam hit the south pacific island in March, wiping out food crops and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

When it struck, Dr Les Ala, a consultant physician at Llantrisant's Royal Glamorgan Hospital had just left after a first visit home in 15 years.

The disaster was "heartbreaking" and he made plans to travel back and help out.

Image copyright Dr Les Ala
Image caption Around 240 people were waiting to see Dr Ala on one island, where he worked for 17 hours a day

Despite having no news of his own family's safety for two weeks, he spent 21 days working in accident and emergency departments at hospitals in the capital, Port Vila and in Luganville.

As well as working around the clock to treat hundreds of patients, he held clinics twice a day and taught nurses during his lunchtime.

While Dr Ala's work was not directly linked to relief work, he carried out medical duties that allowed others to be involved.

The trip was supported by his employer Cwm Taf University Health Board. Dr Ala is now back in south Wales and raising funds for his countrymen.

Image copyright Dr Les Ala
Image caption An estimated 90% of homes and infrastructure was wiped out with tens of thousands of people left homeless
Image copyright Dr Les Ala
Image caption Dr Ala worked as Team Vanuatu's medical director and cultural attache during the 2012 London Olympics

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