Delivering Babies in PNG

Alan Opiri works delivering babies at Popondetta General Hospital. Born in Gulegule Village on Normandy Island in Milne Bay Province, his senior education was completed at Cameron Secondary School. Alan studied General Nursing at St Barnabas School of Nursing in Alotau, Milne Bay, situated in South Eastern PNG.

Before joining Popondetta General Hospital four years ago, Alan worked in various health facilities for Rural Health in his home province of Milne Bay. From 2001-2004, he was based at the coastal village, Rabaraba. Following this, Alan worked at Losuia, a village on Kiriwina Island which is part of the Kiriwina Islands. His work with Rural Health continued at Sehulea, Milne Bay Province until 2014 when Alan joined Popondetta General Hospital.

A New Ward

A brand new ward for the treatment of Tuberculosis is under construction at Popondetta General Hospital. Built by a team of local builders, plumbers and electricians and led by Brisbane based construction group, Canstruct.

This new structure provides the hospital with the ability to isolate very sick patients suffering from TB. Currently it is difficult for this to occur. Highly contagious TB patients are forced to stay in wards throughout the hospital.

It has been designed for the specific treatment of this highly contagious disease. High ceilings, the provision for direct air flow, fans as well as isolation rooms for extremely unwell patients have all been included in the structure.

TB has become a high priority for PNG. It remains a major public health threat to the community. According to the World Health Organisation (2016), it kills more people in PNG than any other infectious disease. To make things worse, the high levels of drug resistant TB is growing.

This continues the commitment OCDP has for the treatment of TB. Training in the hospital is an ongoing initiative that we carry out in the identification and treatment of the disease.

Training at PGH

In the last few weeks, sessions of maternal health training have again occurred at Popondetta General Hospital (PGH). Many of the health professionals travelled long distances from places including Itokama, Ambasi, Gona, Sakarina, Wanigela, Tufi, Afore and Ako to attend the training.

Lester Dona was one of these people. Initially Lester was surprised at being offered a place at the two-day maternal update course. But then he remembered his former tutor with St Margaret’s at Oro Bay, John Gadebo, now headed up the training unit at the hospital.

The difficult part lay ahead with a full day of walking on a bush track and then waiting the next day to get a PMV to Popondetta town. At his health centre, he is the only qualified person and he explained how updating his skills and getting medical drugs were big problems. There had been a breakthrough however, and they now had access to an emergency helicopter mainly for pregnant women with blood pressure problems and bleeding.

Lester was one of twelve participants who travelled from outlying areas of Oro Province to attend the training. These areas are remote and sadly, the health care professionals are forced to deal with difficult situations on a constant basis.