A medical team of 6 (2 doctors, 3 nurses and 1 student) travelled to PNG in September 2014. The first half of the trip was spent in health posts around the Oro Province. Hepatitis B Free worked in close partnership with the health clinics of New British Palm Oil, and together we worked hard to improve healthcare delivery to local communities living around Popondetta and Kokoda. The three clinics visited were Mamba clinic (located near Kokoda), Kokoda hospital and Siroga clinic (located in Popondetta).
One of the most important aspects of the clinics was vaccine delivery. In partnership with local health workers such as Karen, an immunisation nurse at Siroga clinic, we delivered Hepatitis B vaccines (everyone), Tetanus vaccines (women aged 15-45) and Measles vaccines (children aged 1-15). In addition, doctor consultations were provided for as many patients as possible, working side-by-side with the local community health workers/nurses. We both learnt a lot from each other’s experience and knowledge.
Glasses clinics were another important part of the clinics at Mamba, Kokoda and Siroga. Over the course of the year, donated eyeglasses had been collected from high schools and university students across Sydney, and their prescription had been measured by volunteer optometry students at the University of New South Wales. These were then given away at the glasses clinics to correct refractive error. Others with cataracts or advanced pterigiums (skin growths across the eye) were recorded to be referred for eye surgery. It was incredibly rewarding to see the impact of something as simple as a pair of glasses on their lives, as many people had never had access to eyecare or had not been serviced for many years.
Another component of our time in Popondetta was focused on education and training for local health care workers, both nurses and community health workers (CHWs). Presentations prepared on topics nominated by the health workers were delivered for the staff at Kokoda hospital and Siroga clinic. The topics included:
- Hepatitis B
- Obstetric emergencies
- Aches and pains
- Infection control
Finally, we donated supplies that had been requested by the clinics. These included:
- Days out for girls sanitary packs
- Birthing kits
- Blood pressure monitor (Veridian)
- Gallipots (containers)
We were greatly encouraged by the positive uptake from the staff and community in Popondetta and Kokoda and look forward to continuing the partnerships we have made there.