The more time I spend in PNG, the more I realize that relief aid is not going to ever change a thing… There is just so much need, that it feels like an incredible amount of time would be needed in order to even start to make a dent in some of the issues. However, what I do believe to be efficient is health education/health promotion and establishing good health foundations.
When I first went to the Kokoda Memorial Hospital, I was surprised and pleased to hear that a Village Health Volunteer Program was ongoing! This Village Health Volunteer Program is amazing; the government sponsors individuals from remote villages to get trained in basic health skills. The shills are water and sanitation; making water filters, proper nutrition, malaria prevention along with safe birthing skills. After the lectures are over, the participants are returned to their village to implement and teach what they’ve learnt, BRILLIANT!!!
Initially the program was pioneered in order to overcome the isolation of the mountainous Kokoda region. More recently, and due to the initial success, the program expanded to the northern coast of Oro Province. This year, it is planned to further extend to the Tufi coast of Oro, overcoming yet another isolation stronghold!
I count myself as privileged to have met such passionate people as the ones who run the Village Health Volunteer Program and so fortunate to have had the chance to work alongside them, exchange knowledge and skills and spur one another on with our visions and passions for healthcare in Papua New Guinea.
As we are planning to bring the Medical Ship to Oro Province for the first time this year, I’m excited to see how we’ll be able to continue to partner with such programs and build on what the province is already doing. Perhaps include these newly trained village health volunteers in our service delivery strategies for Oro Province. I am excited to return to Oro, and value the impact of continued relationships with the different health workers on the ground.
Leading this year’s IPHC (Introduction to Primary Health Care school), I am excited to see how we’ll be able to partner with programs like this… After all, we have the same passion; we want to see the lost found, the blind see, the lame walk and then dead live.